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SONA 2020

Duterte claims vaccine vs. COVID-19 'just around the corner'

A vaccine for COVID-19 is "just around the corner," President Rodrigo Duterte claimed in his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, as he urged Filipinos not to despair even amid the pandemic.

"We live in a troubled time. A dream of prosperity for our country was suddenly snapped by a virulent virus. No nation was spared, neither rich nor poor were exempt," he said.

"Let us not despair. The vaccine is around the corner. Sooner but not later, the virus that gobbled thousands of lives will itself be laid to rest," he added.

Last week, Duterte raised the possibility of selling Philippine assets to make funds to procure vaccines against COVID-19 once available.

"If there is a thing that develops which is really good for you, mauna ako. Mag-utang ako. Magpabili ako kung saan puwede magpabili ng lupa. Ibili ko ng medicine, he said.

Duterte first mentioned such a possibility in April, as he said this would be considered if funds for the fight against the disease would run out.

This was reinforced by Malacañang earlier this month when Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. on July 3 said assets would be sold to ensure that the Philippines could pay for vaccines.

"Basta po mayroon ng gamot diyan sa COVID-19. Basta may bakuna, ibebenta natin lahat ng ari-arian ng gobyerno para makabili po tayo para sa ating mga kababayan," he said.

Last week, however, BSP Governor Benjamin Diokno said the Philippines has enough funds to finance this as he cited the country's foreign exchange reserves. --KBK, GMA News