PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte admitted he is struggling to address the pandemic in the country, particularly in securing vaccines against COVID-19.
“I’m having a hard time. I’m grappling with the issue of COVID,” he said in a pre-recorded public address on Monday, March 29.
“It takes most of my time actually. More than any other papers, it’s the COVID that is taking my time or most of my time looking for ways and kung ano na ang nangyayari doon sa labas kung saan tayo makakuha (where we can supply),” he added.
According to him, procuring vaccines is hard, making him feel like he is “passing through purgatory.”
“Hay buhay. Kung alam lang ninyo… Para akong dumadaan ng purgatoryo ngayon at this time hanggang hindi matulungan ang lahat ng Pilipino (Oh, life. If you only knew… I’m like passing through purgatory at this time until I am able to help all Filipinos),” said Duterte.
“That is how hard it is para makakuha lang talaga tayo… Gusto ko na ngang umiyak sa harap ninyo pero naubos na ang luha ko (That is how hard it is for us to get vaccines… I want to cry in front of you but I have run out of tears),” he added.
Duterte warned the public of “bleak months,” due to the tight global supply of vaccines.
“We want to buy, we have money, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank said, ‘OK, we will lend you.’ The money is made available to us. I suppose that is what the bank has told our people. The problem is it’s not enough,” he said.
“So we expect a very, not really a dark future, but we expect bleak months… baka mahawa ka nga eh. Ang problema mahawa ka (You might get infected. The problem is if you get infected),” he added.
The Philippines has so far received 2.5 million vaccines against COVID-19, including the additional one million Sinovac jabs from China that arrived in the country on Monday.
Duterte asked for everyone’s patience and understanding as the government tries its best to get “the vaccine from anywhere.”
“Stretch your patience and be understanding a bit. We are doing our best. We are not a vaccine-producing country. We do not have the expertise, we do not have the knowledge, medical-scientific knowledge. So we are waiting,” he said.
“I would be the last person, ako ang pinakahuling tao dito sa Pilipinas na magpapahirap sa Pilipino (I would be the last person who would inflict suffering on Filipinos). If only I had the power, kung nandiyan lang sa akin ‘yong poder na like a magic wand na maalis kaagad itong problema natin, mawala, gagawin ko (like a magic wand to make this problem vanish, I’ll do it),” he added
Over the weekend, he placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) until April 4 following the spike in COVID-19 cases in the country.
To date, there are a total of 747,288 COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, with 13,297 fatalities and 603,746 recoveries.