Officials volunteer to take COVID-19 vaccine in public as Duterte shuns move
President Rodrigo Duterte confers with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III during a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Presidential Guest House in Panacan, Davao City on August 10 , 2020.
Presidential Photo/Joey Dalumpines

Officials volunteer to take COVID-19 vaccine in public as Duterte shuns move

(Philstar.com) - January 27, 2021 - 3:24pm

MANILA, Philippines — A growing number of administration officials have said that they are willing to be vaccinated for the coronavirus in public, but President Rodrigo Duterte's men continued to insist on privacy for him in his choice to take it in private, contrary to what he said months ago.

At a Laging Handa briefing on Wednesday, Health Secretary Francicso Duque III said he, along with vaccine and testing czars Carlito Galvez Jr. and Vince Dizon, are ready to take the shots once it becomes available.

"Kung kami ay mauuna, isa lang ang hangarin: para ipakita sa taumbayan na ito pong mga bakunang ito na napili at nasuring maigi [ay] siguradong ligtas, dekalidad at epektibo," Duque said.

(If we will be the first, it is to show the people that the vaccines approved and studied carefully are safe, of quality and effective.)

Galvez said too that they would go as far as have their families vaccinated as well for the effort.

Such an apparent display of willingness by officials at a time when the public's trust on vaccines remain uncertain is a jarring difference to that of the president.

According to his spokesperson, Duterte said he would take the jabs in private, going against his word in August of last year where he said he would volunteer to be the first in the country to be inoculated.

Many have sought to stress that Duterte, who as surveys suggest has remained popular even in the final years of his presidency, should lead in the effort to convince Filipinos that the vaccines are safe. The country's vaccine czar in one briefing acknowledged as well that Duterte doing it in public could allay Filipinos' fears on getting the vaccine for the coronavirus.

At a Senate hearing on government's vaccination program, Duque said he would convince the president to do so, but appeared to have changed tune in today's briefing. 

"Let's respect that that is the choice of the president," the health chief said. "But hopefully, he might still change his mind because we know that there are some world leaders who have openly have themselves vaccinated."

There is much concern over what even lawmakers said is the administration's seeming preference for the Chinese-made Sinovac whose results and final price are still unclear to date. 

Add to that, a local pollster has found too that 47% of Filipinos said they would not take the vaccine once available, with majority concerned on its safety and efficacy.

The health department has since vowed to mount a massive information campaign on the jabs for the COVID-19 which has infected more than 516,000 Filipinos and killed over 10,300.

Adding in the list of Duterte officials who said they would take the vaccine in public is Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, while a close ally of the president in Congress, Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano (Taguig-Pateros), said too that he would be willing. 

Across the globe, many chief executives have been inoculated on live television, such as US President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

But as it seems, Duterte is hard set on following United Kingdom's Queen Elizabeth in taking the shots in private, despite him being an elected official in a democratic country and not in a monarchy. — Christian Deiparine

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with