MANILA, Feb 9 (Mabuhay) —  Malacañang on Tuesday shrugged off the suggestion made by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) to let Covid-19 vaccine delivery in far-flung areas be handled by the Red Cross and other civil humanitarian agencies instead of the military.

In a Palace press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the national government is sticking with its original plan to make the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in charge of vaccine delivery in far-flung areas.

“We have a rollout plan. ‘Yun po ang masusunod kahit anong sabihin pa ng CPP-NPA (That’s what we’re going to follow regardless of what the CPP-NPA (New People’s Army) says),” he said.

He acknowledged that the CPP-NPA have freedom of speech, but noted that the government could not ignore the fact that they are tagged as a terrorist group.

“I guess they have freedom of expression but they are tagged as a terrorist group so parang (it’s like), they can express their opinion pero hanggang dun lang po ‘yun (but it’s just going to stay as an opinion),” he added.

Since the vaccine rollout plan was devised by the country’s leading experts, Roque said it would be the only plan that the national government will follow.

“Ang ating rollout plan po ay binuo po ‘yan sa tulong po ng mga pangunahing eksperto and it will remain (Our rollout plan was devised with help of the country’s leading experts and it will remain),” he said.

In a taped speech aired late Monday night, President Rodrigo Duterte appealed to the CPP and its armed wing, the NPA, to allow the free and safe transport of Covid-19 vaccine deliveries across the country starting this month.

“I am appealing to the Communist Party of the Philippines. The CPP must guarantee that the vaccines in the course of being transported to areas where there are no city health officers or medical persons, na ‘wag ninyo galawin ang medisina (don’t touch the medicine), allow the vaccines to be transported freely and safely,” Duterte.

He also asked the CPP-NPA not to intercept the vaccines and to observe the rules of humanity “because that (vaccine) is for the Filipino people”.

“As I have said, the money belongs to the Filipino people. The credit goes to no one. Sa inyo ito mga taong Filipino (This is for the Filipino people),” he said. “So natural lang na kayong mga (So it is natural that you) members ng CPP and the allied, NPA, NDF [National Democratic Front] or whatever, kindly observe the rules of humanity.”

While the CPP, through its spokesperson Marco Valbuena, assured unhampered delivery of Covid-19 vaccines, it also suggested that vaccine delivery in far-flung areas be handled by the International Committee of the Red Cross, the Philippine Red Cross, and other civilian humanitarian agencies. (MNS)

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