President Rodrigo Duterte will personally welcome China's donation of 600,000 COVID-19 vaccines from Sinovac once they arrive in the country, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Wednesday.
“Gusto po nating tumanaw ng utang na loob, kaya nais sumalubong ni Presidente. Magkakaroon po ng ceremony kapag dumating na ang donated vaccines ng People’s Republic of China,” Roque said during a Palace briefing.
Roque said the President may be accompanied by Cabinet members, including himself. “Handang handa na po kami magpaturok na,” he said.
The government has been criticized for its supposed preference to Chinese-made vaccines, but Roque assured the public that expressing gratitude to China does not mean compromising the Philippines' interest.
“Ang akin lang naman, gusto lang natin magpasalamat. Sa panahon po ng kagipitan, ang atin pong kaibigang Tsina ang maaasahan natin,” he said.
“Hindi po masama tumanaw ng utang na loob. Pilipino po tayo, at ang Pilipino po, hindi ingrato,” Roque added.
“Ipaglalaban po natin ang dapat ipaglaban, pero hindi po tayo ingrato.”
Last February 12, Duterte said he could not afford to confront China lest the Philippines faced consequences.
The President did not mention the West Philippine Sea, but his administration has been widely criticized over his refusal to condemn aggression of Chinese authorities against Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.
"I cannot be brave in the mouth against China because we are avoiding any confrontation that would lead to something that we can hardly afford, at least at this time,” Duterte said. —KBK, GMA News