We'll 'try our best' to convince Duterte to be vaccinated in public â Duque
Photo shows President Rodrigo Duterte and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.
Presidential Communications Operations Office

We'll 'try our best' to convince Duterte to be vaccinated in public — Duque

Bella Perez-Rubio (Philstar.com) - January 22, 2021 - 4:51pm

MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday said he will do everything he can to persuade President Rodrigo Duterte to receive his coronavirus jab in public to boost people's confidence in vaccines following news that the chief executive plans to be inoculated in private.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque earlier this week said Duterte decided that it was unnecessary to allow the Filipino people to see him receiving the vaccine even after claiming last year that he would receive his jab in public. During a public address last week, the president also said he was willing to receive the vaccine last after going so far as to say last year that he would participate in clinical trials for a Russian-made jab.

But Sen. Nancy Binay, during a Senate hearing on the national vaccination plan, cited a recent survey that found that 47% of Filipinos are unwilling to be vaccinated, most of whom were concerned about safety.

Given this, she asked Duque partially in Filipino: "Are you willing to convince the president that it would be a good campaign to persuade our countrymen to be vaccinated if they see [him] receiving the vaccine?"

"Yes, ma'am," Duque said in response. "We will try our best to convince the president to perhaps publicly allow himself to be vaccinated but we will respect his ultimate decision."

Binay also asked Duque if the health department had plans to ask other popular public figures to be vaccinated in public to boost people's confidence, to which he jokingly replied that he would hope to enlist the help of senators, including Binay herself.

He did not, however, outline any other steps that his department will take to raise public trust in vaccines.

Vice President Leni Robredo last Sunday noted that Duterte's popularity, as evidenced by surveys, would help convince the public to be inoculated if they see him doing the same.

Other world leaders, including Singapore's President Halimah Yacob, Indonesia's President Joko Widodo and newly-inaugurated US President Joe Biden, have allowed, if not encouraged, media coverage of their inoculation.

But Roque said Duterte would be "taking the route" of Britain's Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, a constitutional monarch and her consort, rather than that of many governing and democratic leaders, and receive his jab in private.

Robredo 'more than ready' to take vaccine in public

But a long-time aid and close ally of Duterte's, Sen. Bong Go, threw the challenge back at Robredo, daring her to be vaccinated first and in public, not realizing that the vice president had already committed to doing so last month.

“As early as the first week of December, VP Leni already declared her willingness to receive the vaccine in public to encourage all Filipinos to get vaccinated,” Robredo's spokesman Barry Gutierrez said Wednesday.

“In her view, government should have two priorities on this issue: ensuring the availability of a safe, effective and affordable vaccine, and ensuring that as many Filipinos as possible receive it," he added. "She is more than ready to do her part in attaining these goals."

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