‘Thanks but no thanks,’ says Sotto on Duterte offer to buy Pfizer jabs for senators
MANILA, Philippines — “Thanks but no thanks.”
This was the response of Senate President Vicente Sotto III to an offer from President Rodrigo Duterte to order Pfizer vaccines for senators, as the former denied the lawmakers’ supposed preference for the jab developed by the American firm.
In a speech aired late Monday, the president scorned some senators who are urging the government to prioritize the procurement of Pfizer’s vaccine.
“Tell him thanks but no thanks! I wonder what gave him the idea that the senators favor Pfizer?” Sotto told reporters in a Viber message.
“I asked Sen. [Christopher] ‘Bong’ Go yesterday after he made his pitch if the President is informed of what’s transpiring in our hearings. He (Go) said yes but apparently not!” he added.
Over Twitter, Sotto said senators prefer “any vaccine” which are “correctly priced” and properly procured and distributed.
“I wonder who gave [President Rodrigo Duterte] the wrong info that senators favor Pfizer? We do not! We favor any vaccine CORRECTLY PRICED! Properly procured n distributed!” he said.
During his speech, Duterte mentioned Sen. Risa Hontiveros, who earlier asked the government to ensure that the Philippines will be able to procure vaccines from Pfizer after it was able to secure an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) last Jan. 14.
Senator Panfilo Lacson also denied that senators have a preference for Pfizer’s vaccine.
“I haven’t heard of any senator who has expressed preference for the Pfizer vaccine or any brand for that matter,” Lacson said in a separate message to reporters.
“What we are doing in the Senate is an exercise of our oversight over the appropriations laws that we passed particularly on the purchase of the vaccines,” he added.
Lacson reiterated there is no personal or political agenda involved in the Senate’s inquiry into the government’s Covid-19 vaccination plan.
“Most of us who participated in the public hearings of the [Committee of the Whole] merely want to get straightforward and honest responses from the concerned authorities so we will be informed for our future reference in our legislative work,” he said.
“Instead, the resource persons were groping, inconsistent, flip-flopping and even evasive in their responses – hence our misgivings and apprehensiveness,” he added.
The Senate is scheduled to resume its inquiry on the government’s COVID-19 vaccination drive on Friday, January 22.
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