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Senators prefer Pfizer? Hontiveros says it’s Palace showing preference for China vaccine

/ 02:50 PM January 19, 2021
Senator Risa Hontiveros during the online press briefing.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros. (File / Screen grab / Senate PRIB)

MANILA, Philippines — “It’s the Palace that showed preference for a single Chinese vaccine.”

Senator Risa Hontiveros said after President Rodrigo Duterte hit some senators for supposedly preferring the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer-BioNTech.

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“Ang Palasyo lang naman ang nagtataya ng lahat ng pera ng bayan sa isang kabayo. It is the Palace itself, through its Spokesperson, in its prior statements, that definitely showed preference for a single Chinese vaccine, despite reports of its lower efficacy, and questionable pricing cost,” Hontiveros said in a statement.

(It’s the Palace that’s betting on one horse. It is the Palace itself, through its spokesperson, in its prior statements, that definitely showed preference for a single Chinese vaccine.)

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“We should rely on our publicly trusted and independent vaccine expert panel to provide us the assessment and recommendation on what type and brand of vaccine is safe and effective for a particular group,” she added.

In his speech aired late Monday, Duterte offered to purchase Pfizer vaccines for senators

He also mentioned 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.

READ: Poe to gov’t: Prioritize vaccine deal with Pfizer

But the senator said that in the Senate, “it has never been about choosing a particular brand.”

The origin of the vaccine is “inconsequential” so long as it is guaranteed to be safe, effective and available on time, according to Hontiveros.

Further, she said it is the Senate’s duty to ensure that the public funds for vaccine procurement is “used efficiently and for the best buy.”

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“Hindi lang ito usapang pera, usapang buhay din ito,” she said.

(This is not only about money, this is also about safety.)

“Kaya hindi tumitigil ang Senado sa pagch-check and balance dahil malaking responsibilidad ng gobyerno siguraduhin na ligtas ang bakuna,” she added.

(That’s why the Senate is not stopping in performing its system of check and balance because the government has a big responsibility to ensure that the vaccines are safe.)

The Senate earlier conducted two hearings into the government Covid-19 inoculation plan last week. The chamber is scheduled to hold another hearing on Friday, Jan. 22.

During the previous hearings, senators raised questions on the government’s seeming preference for China’s Sinovac vaccine when there are other vaccines that have a higher efficacy rate and lower in cost.

Vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. had repeatedly defended the government’s decision to procure jabs from Sinovac, saying it was offering its vaccine for a cheaper price than US pharmaceutical firms while Malacañang said that the firm’s vaccine “proven safe.”

“Kahit anong brand pa ang ibigay sa atin, ang usapin dito ay ang paglalagay ng matibay na safety nets at maayos na accountability mechanism pagdating dito sa ating national vaccination plan,” Hontiveros went on.

(No matter what the brand they give us, the issue is to provide safety nets and accountability mechanisms with regards to the national vaccination plan.)

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Panfilo Lacson have already denied that senators are showing preference for a certain vaccine.

JPV

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TAGS: COVID-19, Nation, News, Palace, Pfizer vaccine, Senator Risa Hontiveros
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