Philippines’ Duterte Says China Still a Benefactor Amid Tensions

·1 min read
FILE PHOTO: China's Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian (L) and President Rodrigo Duterte watch as crates containing Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccines arrive on a Chinese Airforce plane at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on February 28, 2021 in Manila, Philippines. (Photo: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)
FILE PHOTO: China's Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian (L) and President Rodrigo Duterte watch as crates containing Sinovac Biotech COVID-19 vaccines arrive on a Chinese Airforce plane at Ninoy Aquino International Airport on February 28, 2021 in Manila, Philippines. (Photo: Ezra Acayan/Getty Images)

By Ian Sayson and Siegfrid Alegado

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said China remains a benefactor, as the Southeast Asian nation seeks to increase vaccine delivery from the mainland amid brewing tensions in disputed waters.

“China remains our benefactor,” Duterte said in a taped televised briefing Monday evening. “Just because we have a conflict with China doesn’t mean to say that we have to be rude and disrespectful.”

Duterte made the comment after Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin earlier on Monday, using his personal Twitter, lashed at Beijing in an expletive-laced demand for China to remove ships from areas in the disputed South China Sea.

In the same briefing, Philippine vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said the government’s negotiating for monthly delivery of as many as 4 million doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. as well as 2 million shots of Russia’s Sputnik V. As many as 4 million doses of both vaccines are expected to arrive in May.

The government aims to double inoculations to 2 million persons this month, Galvez said, adding that 500,000 people need to be vaccinated a day to achieve herd immunity.

While daily infections fall across the country, use of intensive-care beds remains high, Health Secretary Franciso Duque said. Strong border control and compliance to quarantine protocols are needed to contain spread of more contagious variants, he said.

© 2021 Bloomberg L.P.