By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday blasted Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque for his remarks that Filipino should not be choosy on which brand of COVID-19 vaccine for their inoculation.
In a statement, Lacson said that it’s not fair to say that Filipinos cannot choose their vaccines, at least from those made available by the government.
“It’s bad enough that the national government virtually controls which brand/s of vaccines to procure. Pati ba naman ang pagpili kung ano ituturok sa braso ng mga Pilipino, hindi pa rin puwede mamili ang Pilipino?”he said.
“Bakit ko naman pipiliin ang brand na 50% lang ang efficacy at wala man lang application for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA), against other brands with 79% and/or 95% efficacy and have pending EUA approval from the Food and Drug Administration?” Lacson enthused.
Having said that, he added, “we can only pray and hope that the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases and the Department of Health properly implement the vaccination plan they laid out during our Senate hearing Monday.”
Lacson said that while the plan may sound good, the difference is in the implementation – the reaction and responses to emergencies. “Without proper execution, a plan no matter how good it is written and presented, won’t mean any.”
Sen. Leila de Lima assails Roque
“Lahat ng planong ito ay para sa kalusugan at kaligtasan ng mga Pinoy sa banta ng pandemya. We are public servants, and we should earn the people’s trust, not extract it,” she concluded. (AI/MTVN)
Meanwhile, Senador Leila De Lima also irked by Roque’s remark saying that Roque once again earned the ire of the nation when he said that the public should not be picky with the COVID-19 vaccines. “Nahawa na ata sa klase ng pag-iisip ng boss nya.”
“Sabihan ba naman ang taumbayan na bawal daw maging pihikan? Aba, terible! Hindi PSG ang taumbayan para pilitin at utusan tanggapin ang bakuna na wala silang tiwala. Napakarami namang ibang bakuna na puwede pagpilian na mas mura at mas epektibo,”she said.
“Anong akala niyo sa buhay ng mga Pilipino, pwede niyong paglaruan? Pasalamat na lang kami na mayroong bakuna kaysa wala? The Filipinos are not asking for too much, Mr. Roque. The public has the right to choose which vaccine they would be willing to take so they would know which side effects they would also be saying yes to. Akala ko ba human rights lawyer ka?, the senator added.
“Our people deserve no less than a safe, effective, affordable and corruption-free vaccine. Nothing more, nothing less,” de Lima said.
With this, Senator Risa Hontiveros on Tuesday urged Malacanang to put an end to its threatening statements and stop “cramming vaccine preferences down the public’s throat” which she says could contribute to the vaccine anxiety of the public.
In a press conference, Presidential Spokesperon Harry Roque said that if the individuals on the priority list refuse to be vaccinated with China’s Sinovac, the first vaccine expected to be available in the country, they will forfeit their slot to be vaccinated for free.
“Sabi ni Sec. Roque, hindi pwede maging choosy. Pero sabi niya rin na si Presidente mismo ay namimili pa between Russian and Chinese vaccines. Kung si Presidente pwedeng mamili, dapat ang taumbayan ay malaya ding makakapili at kalusugan nila iyan. Klaro sa mga survey na may agam-agam ang publiko sa ligtas ng bakuna, pero parang ang mensahe mula sa Palasyo ay ‘conform or get COVID’. Dehado ang mga Pilipino sa galawan na yan,” she said.
“Paanong hindi bababa ang tiwala at kung anu-ano ang nababalitaan ng mamamayang Pilipino? Dumagdag pa na nabakunahan ang ilang miyembro ng Presidential Security Group at POGO workers through apparent smuggling na parang kinukunsinti pa ng administrasyon. Hindi pa sigurado kung ligtas ang bakunang ginamit,” she added.
Hontiveros said Malacanang should instead recognize and address the public’s ‘dwindling’ vaccine trust that can “threaten the success of the vaccination plan”. She added that an important consideration is the Social Weather Survey (SWS) report that says most Filipinos do not trust China, with a “bad” net trust score of negative 36.
“We need to prove to the public that no matter where we procure the vaccine from, they can trust government to be faithful to the process from start to end. Na walang lulusot pa na bakunang hindi ligtas. Many are looking to the Palace for reassurance. Dapat pinapapanatag ang loob ng publiko, hindi pinagbabantaan,” she said.
“I-communicate natin ng maayos sa publiko na walang problema kung dumaan sa tamang proseso at approval ang anumang Chinese vaccine. Ayaw lang natin na yung ibang available vaccines at willing manufacturers, baka maudlot dahil masyadong naka-focus sa “Made in China”. Patunayan ng Palasyo na naniniwala talaga sila na ang bakuna ay solusyong pangkalusugan at hindi political favor,” she said. (AI/MTVN)