Duterte slams ‘critics’ who ‘prevented’ corruption in vaccine procurement
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte slammed administration critics who claim to have prevented corruption in the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines, saying these are people who are trying to muddle the discussions.
Duterte said in his pre-recorded briefing on Monday night that he takes exception to talks that some people’s vigilance on the government’s national vaccination program led to lower prices, as this was not the case.
Previously, there were questions as to why the government is procuring vaccines from China-based pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech, despite having high prices and allegedly low efficacy rates. Government officials then said the prices published were not correct.
“Again to the Filipino people, ‘yong gustong maniwala doon sa mga oposisyon pati ‘yong mga nagpo-porma, eh ‘di doon kayo. (Kung) Maniwala kayo sa amin, eh ‘di dito kayo. But hindi ‘yan (corruption allegations) totoo,” Duterte said.
(Again, to the Filipino people, if you want to believe the opposition and those who are posturing, then go with them. If you believe us, then stay with us. But the corruption allegations are not true.)
“I take exception to itong statement that they were able to prevent corruption or an overpriced because of their vigilance. No, far from it, actually. You’re just muddling, you muddled up, ginugulo lang ninyo (you’re messing it up),” he added.
Duterte did not mention anyone in particular but Senator Panfilo Lacson mentioned in a tweet last January 17 that if it is true that the prices of Sinovac’s CoronaVac are going down by a huge sum, “netizens and observers can pat themselves on the back.”
“If it’s true that government is now dropping the price of Sinovac vaccine from P1,847.25 per dose to only P650, the Senate has probably done our share to save our people billions of pesos in the country’s vaccination program. Netizens can pat themselves on the back,” Lacson said.
Sinovac is one of the companies that the government is talking with for its vaccination project. However, several officials have questioned Sinovac’s prices, as Lacson and other sources said the vaccine costs around $5 or around P240 per dose in some instances, but it goes for around $38 or around P1,800 in the country.
After the Senate hearing, it was revealed that Sinovac prices would not go over P700 — giving an idea that the probe and public outrage led to lower prices.
But vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. slammed reports of high prices saying that vaccine prices were already low during the negotiation stage.
However, Senator Sonny Angara said that their point of reference — the supposed original vaccine prices which skyrocketed to over P3,600 for two doses — came from the Department of Health around November.
Lacson also defended himself and the Senate from allegations that the Senate is taking credit for the lower vaccine prices while making the issue political.
Duterte, for his part, assured the public again that there is no corruption in Secretary Galvez’ negotiations as he and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez have the last say in the procurement.
“Matagal pa ‘yan, dadaan pa ‘yan kay Dominguez and you know how Dominguez is, tignan mo kung maka-lusot ‘yan kay Dominguez, okay ‘yan. That is not the end of everything,” Duterte said.
(That is still a long process, it would move through Dominguez and you know how he works, if that would pass through Dominguez then that’s okay. That is not the end of everything.)
“The decision of Galvez is not the sum total of it all, it has to be reviewed and finally sa akin rin, I will take a look and ask around if it is really a reasonable pricing for us,” he added.
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