CALOOCAN CITY, Jan. 11 (PIA) -- President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Wednesday said local government units (LGUs) have been given discretion to choose their trusted brand of COVID-19 vaccines.
Talking to the people after meeting members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacanang Park, the President told the LGUs that have allocated funds to secure COVID-19 vaccines for their constituents they are free to choose any vaccine brand and that the national government will not interfere.
"To the mayors and the governors, you can choose any vaccine you like to buy. Wala kaming pakialam kung ano ang pipiliin ninyo. Hindi kami makialam sa lahat ng bagay," he said.
However, Duterte reminded LGU officials that the vaccines they will purchase will have to receive approval from the national government before given to their constituents.
He said he would not force any LGU to join the national government's vaccination campaign.
"We are not forcing anybody to join the cause of the national government. Hindi namin pinipilit na sumali kayo sa ibibigay na bakuna ng national government (We are not forcing you to join the national government's vaccination drive)," he added.
At the same time, the Chief Executive said China-produced vaccines are as good as Western-made ones
He said the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Chinese pharmaceutical companies are "as good as" those produced in the United States and Europe.
Duterte allayed fears over China-made vaccines insisting that their government would not allow their people to be inoculated with the vaccine if they were not "safe, sure, and secure."
"The bakuna that [vaccine czar] Secretary [Carlito] Galvez is buying is as good as any other bakuna na naimbento ng mga Amerikano o yung mga Europeans. Hindi nagkulang ang Chinese. Hindi sila nagkulang sa utak. Bright itong mga Instik [Chinese] and they would not venture kung hindi sapat, it is not safe, sure, and secure," he said.
He expressed full trust in Galvez's decision to procure the China-made vaccines, saying he would not compromise the health and safety of Filipinos.
"Hindi ako magbili ng bakuna na hindi tama. Itong Sinopharm pati Sinovac nabakunahan na nila lahat halos...Kung ayaw ninyo, okay walang. Walang problema," he said.
Duterte said he would be the one to blame if the vaccines purchased by government were not safe.
"Kung may bulilyaso at the end of the day akin talaga yung responsibilidad," he said.
Malacanang earlier said the vaccine developed by China's Sinovac will be the only choice for the government's free immunization program until the middle of 2021. (PIA NCR)