Senate ‘demonizing’ vaccine makers? Some senators deny politics in inquiry
MANILA, Philippines — After the country’s vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez, Jr. supposedly accused the Senate of “demonizing” vaccine makers, particularly China’s Sinovac, at least two senators denied that the chamber’s inquiry into the government’s inoculation plan is tainted with politics.
“Let me assure Sec. Galvez, walang politika sa pagdinig na ito…We call it an oversight, or check and balance, being exercised by a co-equal branch of government,” Senator Panfilo Lacson said during as the Senate resumed its hearing on Friday.
“It is indeed unfortunate that the Senate is being dragged as a scapegoat by projecting the narrative that this inquiry is being used as an avenue for political agenda,” he added.
Before this, Lacson said that Galvez, in a Zoom meeting on vaccine updates Thursday night, “virtually accused” some senators of “‘demonizing vaccine developers or hurting the ongoing negotiations of our government with vaccine manufacturers and suppliers apparently referring to Sinovac.”
According to Lacson, Galvez had specifically mentioned his name as well as Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senator Francis Pangilinan.
“[This,] as if blaming the Senate for the brewing vaccine procurement controversies,” Lacson added.
The said senators have been vocal about their apprehension towards the vaccines developed by China’s Sinovac, citing its low efficacy rate and higher cost as compared to other jabs.
Galvez previously defended the government’s decision to procure Sinovac jabs from the company, saying it was offering its vaccine for a cheaper price than US pharmaceutical firms.
Galvez did not disclose Sinovac’s cost per dosage but said that the Philippines was given the “best price” by the Chinese government for these vaccines.
‘Not a single man’s business’
Lacson pointed out that it is incumbent upon Congress to exercise its mandate to demand transparency and accountability from the government’s pandemic response chief implementers on how public funds are used or planned to be used.
“I am certain that everyone in this [session] hall and those attending online will agree that our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic is not a single man’s business,” the senator said.
Pangilinan echoed Lacson’s manifestation.
“There is no politics here, our concern is to ensure we have free and safe vaccinations for our citizens,” he said.
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