MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte asked Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to explain his side on the allegation by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin that he was to blame for the bungled deal with Pfizer for the acquisition of 10 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.
“Minabuti ni Presidente Duterte na advise-an si Secretary Duque to answer the allegations of Secretary Locsin in the same manner that he defended himself in yesterday’s meeting,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
While Duque already clarified the matter during their regular meeting in Malacañan, Roque said Duterte told the Health chief to explain his position further.
So, antayin na lang po natin ang mga kasagutan ni Secretary Duque,” Roque said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson earlier revealed that Duque was the one being referred to by Locsin in his tweet as the one who “dropped the ball” in the Pfizer deal, depriving the country of the chance to get hold of least 10 million doses of vaccine next month.
According to Lacson, he was told by the Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez that Duque failed to prepare the documentary requirement for the government to be able to buy the vaccines.
In a television interview, Duque claimed Pfizer did not promise to provide the Philippines with 10 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine next month.
Roque added that despite the allegations against the DOH chief, President Duterte did not seem to mind the issue.
He added that it does not matter if Duque, Romualdez, and Locsin have conflicting opinions regarding the matter because it is only Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. who has the authority to handle the vaccine acquisition.
“Mag-away na ang lahat kung gusto nila (Everyone can fight) but the President has made it clear: There’s only one person in charge of getting [the] vaccine, it’s Secretary Galvez,” he said. (AI/FC/MTVN)