MANILA, July 31 (Mabuhay) — Malacañang on Thursday thanked China for its commitment to prioritize the Philippines’ request for immediate access to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine it is developing.

In a virtual press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque was glad that the mended relationship between Beijing and Manila yields positive results.

“Nagpapasalamat po kami sa gobyerno ng Tsina dahil sa isinapubliko po nila ‘yung kanilang posisyon na biglang malapit na kaibigan ng Tsina, ang Pilipinas po ay makikinabang doon sa vaccine na made-develop nila (We are thanking the Chinese government for making public its stance that as China’s close friend, the Philippines will benefit from the vaccine it will develop),” Roque said.

On Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin guaranteed that China will prioritize the Philippines, once Beijing becomes successful in developing a Covid-19 vaccine.

Wang’s statement came a day after President Rodrigo Duterte bared in his fifth State-of-the-Nation Address that he had personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to allow the Philippines to be the first nation to receive China’s vaccine for Covid-19, once it passes all clinical trials.

In May, Duterte believed that China may be among the first countries to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus.

Duterte has repeatedly assured Filipinos that he is ready to utilize all available funds, in the event that a Covid-19 vaccine is developed.

The Philippine government is currently in talks with several Covid-19 vaccine developers from the United States, China, and the United Kingdom for the possible purchase, once vaccines become available.

Roque was optimistic that apart from China, vaccine developers from other countries would also let the Philippines avail of their Covid-19 vaccines, once they succeed with its development.

He made the statement, as he maintained that the Philippines would continue to push for an independent foreign policy, which allows the Philippines to be “friends to all and enemies to no one”.

“Tayo naman po ay nakikipagkaibigan sa lahat at asahan po natin na ang mga kaibigan natin sa Europa at iba pang parte ng daigdig ay ishi-share din sa atin ang kanilang mga vaccine kung meron na sila (We are friends to all and we expect that our friends from Europe and other parts of the world will share their vaccine they will develop),” Roque said.

As of Wednesday, the Philippines has logged a total of 85,486 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 26,996 recoveries and 1,962 fatalities.

Malacañang on July 24 said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has authorized the Philippines’ participation in the Gavi Covid-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) facility, a global initiative that guarantees access to Covid-19 vaccines worldwide.

The COVAX facility is a mechanism designed to ensure rapid, fair, and equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines for every country in the world, be it a rich or poor nation, to make rapid progress towards slowing the pandemic. (MNS)

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