'Kickvacc?' Duque may face graft raps if proven he mishandled Pfizer deal, says Kiko | Inquirer News
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‘Kickvacc?’ Duque may face graft raps if proven he mishandled Pfizer deal, says Kiko

/ 02:24 PM December 17, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III could face graft charges should it be proven that he mishandled the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine deal, Senator Francis Pangilinan said Thursday.

“Kung totoo ito na nagkulang ang DOH (Department of Health), gross and inexcusable negligence sa anti-graft law ang posibleng kaso,” Pangilinan said in a message to reporters.

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(If it’s true that the DOH was negligent, cases of gross and inexcusable negligence under the anti-grant law can be filed.)

“Huwag naman sana na may issue ng ‘kickvacc’ sa dropping of the ball ng Pfizer vaccine procurement,” he added.

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(I hope the dropping of the ball on the Pfizer vaccine procurement was not an issue of ‘kickvacc.’)

On Wednesday, Senator Panfilo Lacson said the Philippines would have secured the delivery of 10 million doses of Pfizer vaccines as early as January next year had Duque worked on necessary documentary requirements, namely the confidentiality disclosure agreement (CDA).

This, after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said “somebody dropped the ball” on the Pfizer deal which botched the January delivery of the vaccines.

“If it can be established that there was inexcusable failure to act that has led to injury either to the government or any party, then Section 3e of the Anti-Graft Law will apply,” Pangilinan, a lawyer, said in a separate statement.

He noted that corrupt practices under Section 3e of the anti-graft law, include “[c]ausing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence.”

On the other hand, Pangilinan said that “if it can be proved that the refusal to act within a reasonable time was intended to favor another party, then Section 3f of the Anti-Graft Law applies.”

Under this section, “[n]eglecting or refusing, after due demand or request, without sufficient justification, to act within a reasonable time on any matter pending before him for the purpose of obtaining, directly or indirectly, from any person interested in the matter some pecuniary or material benefit or advantage, or for the purpose of favoring his own interest or giving an undue advantage in favor of or discriminating against any other interested party” is a violation of the anti-graft law.

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The Senate Committee of the Whole will be looking into the executive department’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.

Duque will be invited to the hearing, Pangilinan said.

“This is precisely why convening the Committee of the Whole is a critical next step. These allegations of negligence or incompetence in the procurement of vaccines must not be left unchecked if we are to prevent a failure in the massive vaccine rollout,” the senator said.

He also stressed the importance of the Committee of the Whole hearing in securing the needed information for a safe, effective, and corruption-free COVID-19 vaccine program.

‘No such thing as dropping the ball’

Asked about the deal in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel on Thursday, Duque said Pfizer never promised to provide the Philippine government with 10 million doses of its vaccine upon the signing of the CDA between the two parties.

Duque had also earlier denied there was negligence on the part of the DOH.

Duque, in a media forum on Wednesday, said that the negotiation with Pfizer for its vaccines is ongoing and that “there is no such thing as dropping the ball.”

“If you look at the statement, the negotiations are ongoing and the DOH (Department of Health) went through the process of iteration,” he said.

JE

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TAGS: COVID-19 Vaccine, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Nation, News, Pfizer, Senator Francis Pangilinan
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