The Philippines will spend P20 billion to procure an initial batch of 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine for the first 20 million beneficiaries that will include the poorest of the poor, the military and the police.
President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to distribute the vaccine for free once available, except to enemies of the state such as drug lords and drug pushers, and those belonging to the upper economic strata.
Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez said the Philippine International Trading Company will be in charge of the procurement, while the Development Bank of the Philippines and Landbank, both state-owned, will bankroll the purchase.
Duterte said the first three firms who are scheduled to complete clinical tests the earliest are all from China, which has since assured the Philippines of priority access to the vaccine.
"By December, we will be back to normal," the President said.
"This will be for free. The first beneficiaries will be the poorest of the poor. Second will be my military and my police – the backbone of my administration.
Yung mga mayayaman, 'wag nyo na ako isipin kasi hindi ako nag-iisip sa inyo," Duterte added.
The President said the military will be in charge of the distribution to ensure that the process is not politicized.
"For my enemies, don't use needles. Just use the bayonet on drug pushers and drug lords. I will not release vaccines to them," he said.
"Hindi maganda (pakinggan)? Hindi talaga maganda. Hindi pala tao tingin ko sa kanila? Sa drug pusher at drug lords ang tingin ko aso," the President added.