Duterte admits US vaccine donations persuaded him to cancel VFA termination

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 3) — President Rodrigo Duterte revealed on Monday that COVID-19 vaccine donations from the United States played a role in his decision to recall the termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement.

“Give and take lang tayo, so pasalamat tayo sa kanila at may naibigay naman ako sa kanila na (we thank them, and I also gave them a) concession," he said during his televised weekly address.

"I conceded the continuance of the Visiting Forces Agreement in gratitude,” he said.

Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque stated that “there is a good possibility” that the vaccine donations contributed to the decision of Duterte to keep the VFA.

Last month, the Philippines received 3.2 million doses of the single-shot Johnson & Johnson's Janssen vaccine donated by Washington through the COVAX Facility.

Last week, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana announced that Duterte canceled the termination of the agreement between Manila and Washington after his meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin III.

This Tuesday, the country will also receive over 3 million vaccine doses of the American brand Moderna, which will be personally welcomed by Duterte.

During his address, the President also thanked US President Joe Biden and the American people for not forgetting the Philippines with its vaccine donations.

“I’d like to thank the President of the United States, si Biden, the government and the people of America for not forgetting us,” he said.

“Do not forget us because we share the same outlook sa (in) geopolitics, especially in Southeast Asia,” he also said.

Currently, the country has received some 34 million coronavirus shots, most of which are Sinovac's CoronaVac of China.

Almost 21 million of these were already administered, with around 9.1 million Filipinos receiving two doses.