Sotto: Late vaccination rollout in PH a ‘blessing in disguise’
The Philippines may be lagging behind other countries in the rollout of a nationwide vaccination program against the new coronavirus, but this may be a blessing in disguise as the country is learning from nations who were ahead, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said on Saturday.
Sotto said while senators have expressed dismay over the delays in the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine, this might have benefited the Filipino nation as it gave the government the opportunity to learn from the mistakes of other countries.
“As it turns out, this may show how God truly loves the Philippines because while we may have been delayed [in our vaccine rollout], it may have been a blessing in disguise,” he said.
He cited how countries that have begun their inoculation programs had to suddenly impose new lockdown restrictions because of the resurgence of COVID-19 cases.
“It was like God purposely wanted the scalawags in our country to commit those mistakes and cause delays, but this is also how our country is learning for the benefit of our people,” he said.
Sotto said the Senate would now prepare its report on the committee of the whole hearings on the government’s vaccination program, which could be ready for approval by the first week of next month.
He expressed confidence the hearings had sufficiently covered all issues surrounding the vaccination program, and doused senators’ suspicion over the government’s lack of preparedness to execute the plan.
Sotto conceded that the hearings showed how some quarters might have attempted to overprice the vaccine.
“It [the attempt to overprice the vaccine] was possible if the opportunity presented itself; but even Senator Lacson assured us that Secretary Galvez would not be involved in it,” the Senate president said, referring to National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief Carlito Galvez Jr.
President Duterte had also vouched for Galvez. “I will bet my presidency, Galvez is not involved in graft. I know him,” he said.
Sotto said he was convinced after Galvez confided to him and three other senators the status of the negotiations, including a nondisclosure agreement that the Philippine government was legally bound to uphold.
“We were shown the true price, and we were also given the assurance that they will reveal every detail of the negotiations once this is concluded,” he said. —With a report from Leila B. Salaverria
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