PASAY CITY — No less than President Rodrigo Roa Duterte welcomed the arrival of 1,124,100 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines, as he thanked the Japanese government for its generous donation.
The President was joined by other top Philippine and Japanese officials in a brief ceremony held here at the Villamor Airbase on Thursday night, July 8.
“Let me thank the government of Japan, and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, for working with the Philippine government in ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. These more than 1 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines will surely go a long way in our quest for herd immunity,” Duterte said.
The President likewise called on the public to have confidence in the anti-COVID-19 vaccines, as the government continues to secure more doses for the country.
“To my fellow Filipinos, please know that we remain committed to acquiring a sufficient supply of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines for all of our countrymen. I, therefore, urge everyone to get vaccinated and help prevent further spread of the virus,” he said.
Embassy of Japan Economic Minister Masahiro Nakata conveyed Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s message during the ceremony, highlighting the long-standing cooperation between Japan and the Philippines.
“As we commemorate this year the 65th anniversary of the normalization of Japan-Philippines diplomatic relations, and the 10th anniversary of our strategic partnership, Japan works to surpass the unprecedented challenge brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, in unison with the Philippines— a true friend, closer than a brother,” Suga said.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Japan has supported the Philippines’ COVID-19 response and mitigation efforts through various interventions such as the Crisis Response Emergency Loan (CRESL), Post-Disaster Standby Loan Phase 2 (PDSL 2), the procurement of medical equipment and laboratory surveillance sites, and the provision of a grant to strengthen the country’s cold chain management system.
Japan’s vaccine donation to the Philippines is a testament to the excellent bilateral relations between the two countries that has been cultivated over the years, according to Health Secretary and Inter-Agency Task Force for the management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Chair Francisco Duque III.
“The strong partnership between Japan and the Philippines, as exemplified in our memorandum of cooperation and ongoing development projects, paved the road for us to witness here today another important milestone in the long and fruitful history of Philippine-Japan relations,” Duque said.
For his part, Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr., vaccine czar and National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer, noted that the donated vaccines will benefit over half a million Filipinos.
“This shipment will benefit 562,050 Filipinos coming from our A1, A2, A3, A4, and A5 priority sectors, and ramp up our vaccination throughput this July,” Galvez said.
“As we continue to expand our vaccination program to save more lives and safely transition to the new normal, it is reassuring to know that there are nations across the world like Japan who are helping to end this global crisis,” the vaccine czar added.
Also present during the event were Secretary Vivencio Dizon, testing czar and NTF against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer; Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, chair of the Senate Committee on Health; and Undersecretary Robert Borje, chief of presidential protocol and presidential assistant on foreign affairs. ###