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International relations

Duterte spokesman links pardon of US Marine to vaccine access

Philippine leader said to be 'upholding the higher national interest' with controversial decision

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte speaks during an international virtual meeting on the coronavirus on Sept. 2. (Photo courtesy of the Presidential Communications Operations Office)

MANILA (Reuters) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's decision to pardon a United States Marine convicted of killing a transgender woman nearly six years ago may have stemmed from his desire to get access to coronavirus vaccines being developed by U.S. firms, his spokesman said on Thursday.

"His decision didn't surprise me. Why? Because I know he is upholding the higher national interest", Harry Roque said in a regular news briefing when asked to give his "personal take" on the president's move.

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