President Duterte reiterates debt of gratitude to China
President Duterte highlights his debt of gratitude to Chinese President Xi Jinping
MANILA – Speaking lengthily on his fifth and final State of the Nation Address before the joint session of the Philippine Senate and House of Representatives, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said he called on Chinese President Xi Jinping for help at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.
He praised China for extending the needed assistance for anti-COVID-19 vaccines. He credited President Xi for being the first global leader to extend assistance in acquiring Chinese-made vaccines.
“When the pandemic struck, the first country I called for help was China,” President Duterte said nearly two hours into his speech. He admitted to President Xi the country has not vaccination program in place and may be in for rough times as the pandemic begins to impact on the Philippine government’s health facilities.
He said President Xi told him the Chinese government will send vaccines to the Philippines. It will be recalled China handed over 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines last February 28 where President Duterte personally welcomed the shipment contained in a Chinese military plane. China, to date has donated a million Sinovac doses to the Philippines.
The vaccine rollout began on Monday, March 1 at the Philippine General Hospital at the heart of Manila.
“Ako, lalo na kaming mga Bisaya, mabigat sa amin yan. Yung utang na loob, mabigat talaga ‘yan,” he said. (To us, Visayans, we take it seriously. We value debt of gratitude.)
The 76-year-old chief executive said having his debt of gratitude, he will surely value the assistance and he will remain a true friend even during the most difficult times.
The Philippine government has purchased 20.5 million doses of Sinovac vaccines to date.
President Duterte began his speech at 4:14 P.M. where he discussed his government accomplishments, underscoring the accomplishments in curbing the drug problem and criminality as well as his campaign against corruption. (Melo M. Acuña)
President Rodrigo Duterte delivering his fifth and final State of the Nation Address which lasted for nearly three hours. (Screen grab from RTVM/PCOO/PTV4/Melo M. Acuna)