Malacañang on Thursday thanked China after the Asian powerhouse vowed to prioritize the Philippines’ request for COVID-19 vaccine.

In a televised briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said the Philippines will surely benefit once the vaccine becomes available.

“Nagpapasalamat po kami sa gobyerno ng Tsina dahil sa isinapubliko po nila ‘yung kanilang posisyon [at] bilang malapit na kaibigan ng Tsina ang Pilipinas po ay makikinabang doon sa vaccine na made-develop nila,” he said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters in Beijing on Tuesday that China and the Philippines have a mutual cooperation on COVID-19 response.

He also said China would give priority to the Philippines once it succeeds in developing a vaccine.

Wang’s statement came a day after President Rodrigo Duterte said in his State of the Nation Address that he had a telephone conversation with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping and sought Beijing’s assurance to give the Philippines priority access.

Earlier this month, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the government has started coordinating with various international partners to ensure the availability of a potential vaccine to Filipinos.

The DFA said it has initiated coordination and information exchange with different jurisdictions across the Americas, Asia and the Pacific, Europe, Africa, and Middle East on COVID-19 vaccine developments.

“Iyan po ay fruits of an independent foreign policy where we are friends to all and enemies to no one,” Roque said. -MDM, GMA News