Asia

Philippines' Duterte says China still a benefactor, denounces minister's 'rude' comments

MANILA (BLOOMBERG) – 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,” Mr Duterte said in a taped televised briefing on Monday (May 3) evening. “Just because we have a conflict with China doesn’t mean to say that we have to be rude and disrespectful.”

Mr Duterte made the comment after Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin earlier on Monday, using his personal Twitter account, 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 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, Mr 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.

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