MANILA – Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Sunday challenged Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson to come up with a solution to help address delays in the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines instead of just questioning the government’s Covid-19 vaccine purchases.
Panelo made the statement after Lacson urged the government to be transparent about the Covid-19 vaccine purchases after supplies arrived in small trickles despite a total of PHP126.75 billion set aside for their procurement.
Lacson said unless the government takes “drastic and innovative steps”, Filipinos “might all die waiting.”
“Assuming na mali yung programa ng gobyerno, ano ‘yun Senador Ping (Assuming the government’s program is wrong, what is it, Senator Ping)? What are those drastic and innovative solutions? Magbigay ka. Kung magaling ka e sabihin mo para kung tama e di gawin natin (Tell us. If you’re really that good, tell us so that if it is right, then we will do it),” Panelo said in his commentary show “Counterpoint.”
Despite efforts to procure Covid-19 vaccines, Panelo explained that the problem lies in the global shortage of Covid-19 vaccine supply.
“Itong sila [vaccine czar] Secretary Charlie Galvez e halos hindi na natutulog ‘to. Sila ‘yan sila [Health Secretary Franciso] Dr. Duque. Yung mga in-charge po dun talagang ginagawa nila. Katunayan wala naman hong problema e. Nakabili na nga ho tayo e meaning perfected na yung contract, talagang magde-deliver na (Secretary Charlie Galvez and Secretary Duque don’t even sleep anymore. Those in charge are doing everything they can. In fact, there’s no problem. We have already purchased vaccines meaning contracts are already perfected and are scheduled for delivery),” he said.
He pointed out that the government had no control over pharmaceutical companies’ decision when to deliver the said vaccines since they prioritized wealthier nations.
“E ang problema nga nagkaroon ng problema sa supply. Hindi po natin kasalanan yung supply. Yung supply manggagaling dun sa pinaggagalingang pharmaceutical company, sila yung nagkaproblema. Buong mundo nag-uunahan makakuha ng bakuna so siyempre yung mga pharmaceutical company, sino yung uunahin nila? Ang uunahin nila yung nakabayad na at yung makapangyarihan (There’s a problem with supply. It’s not our fault there’s a supply problem. Supply comes from pharmaceutical companies. Countries are racing to get a vaccine so of course the pharmaceutical company will prioritize those countries that paid first, those that are more powerful),” he said.
Panelo said some people lacked enough common sense to understand the fact that there is a global supply shortage of vaccines.
He also belied allegations that there is corruption in the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines, noting that multilateral lenders like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank were strict in approving loans.
“Kasi yung mga ‘yan hindi naman magpapa-utang ‘yan kung hindi pupunta dun sa dapat natin bilhan (They would not lend us money if they were not sure that the money would go where it’s intended to go),” he said.
Lacson earlier blamed “concerned agencies in charge” for the cause of delays in the arrival of government-procured vaccines.
For its initial vaccination rollout, the government is using donated vaccines from Chinese drugmaker Sinovac and COVAX facility, the World Health Organization’s (WHO) global vaccine sharing scheme.
The country kicked off its vaccination of March 1 following the arrival of 600,000 doses donated by Chinese government.
On March 4, the government welcomed 487,200 doses of United Kingdom’s AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX facility followed by another set of 38,400 doses that arrived on March 7.
Galvez earlier said the country has secured 108 million doses of vaccines from different drugmakers through signed term sheets. (PNA)