‘No strings attached’ to China’s vaccine donations — Lorenzana

THERE are no strings attached to China’s donation of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines such as the Philippines giving up its sovereign rights to the West Philippine Sea (WPS), Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana insisted on Thursday.

Speaking at the Laging Handa briefing on Thursday, Lorenzana said the government has the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) and the 2016 tribunal ruling by the UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration to prove its claim over the WPS.

Lorenzana addressed concerns over Beijing’s donation of 600,000 vaccines manufactured by Sinovac Biotech Ltd., with 100,000 allocated to the Defense department and the military.

One of the concerns was the possibility of giving up the country’s exclusive rights to the WPS.

But the defense chief said that these were issues that need to be taken separately, saying China has not made any demands in exchange for the doses.

“They (Chiana) are just good-natured with their intent to assist us,” he said.

He cited China’s assistance in the past years, which similarly had no strings attached.

The Armed Forces leadership had ordered the mandatory vaccination of troops but admitted that some soldiers preferred other brands.

Lorenzana claimed that those who refused to take the Sinovac doses at first had a change of heart, given the dramatic increase of Covid-19 cases as recorded by the Department of Health (DoH).

Should the increase continue in the coming days, Lorenzana said he believes that more soldiers would not hesitate to be inoculated with the Chinese vaccines.

As of posting time, the military has inoculated 9,043 soldiers with 25,000 more lined up, Lorenzana said.