Duterte dares Leni: I’ll give you the money, go shop for Covid vaccines
MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte dared Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday to do vaccine shopping outside the country, adding that he will fund her purchases in case she manages to find and buy some vials.
Duterte’s latest rant on Robredo comes after the latter called for further reviews on Chinese government-donated vaccines made by Sinovac Biotech, which arrived on Sunday and was administered earlier, as it would be used for health workers and frontliners.
Robredo said in her Sunday radio program that Sinovac’s vaccine should undergo the right process to ensure that health workers are protected, especially as it has not secured any recommendation from the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC).
“Ganito na lang, sabihin ko sa’yo uli kung marunong kang makinig: walang bakuna ngayon available either hingiin mo, nakawin mo, or bayaran mo. Not only the Philippines, as stated by… earlier binigyan tayo ng worldwide situation ng vaccines… hirap rin sila,” Duterte said in his pre-recorded briefing.
(This is what I’ll do, I’ll tell you again if you know how to listen: no vaccines are available today even if you ask for it, steal it, or pay for it. This is not solely a problem for the Philippines, as stated in the worldwide situation for vaccines. They are also struggling.)
“Ngayon kung gusto mo talaga para mahinto ka, kunin mo ‘yong basket mo, mamalengke ka doon sa labas ng bakuna. Bigyan kita pera, para kung may mabili ka bilhin mo na agad at umuwi ka dito sa Pilipinas, bigay mo doon sa mga doktor,” he added.
(Now if you really want to do something, go get your basket, shop for vaccines outside the country. I’ll give you the money, so that if you manage to see vaccines you can buy it immediately, return to the Philippines and give it to the doctors.)
Duterte further stressed that vaccines from the west — like from America-based Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, British and Swedish AstraZeneca — are running out of stock because the companies are prioritizing their countries of origin.
He also claimed that Robredo only wants to be relevant by appearing concerned over health workers and frontliners — something that he is already doing, Duterte claimed.
“Ang Amerika meron, pero inuuna nila. Ito, alam mo, unahan ito: ako muna bago kayo kasi amin ‘to, as correctly stated by Secretary Galvez. It is only China who has come up with that commitment to so many nations, I don’t know how many, but I’m sure that China will honor on time,” Duterte explained.
(America has vaccines, but they prioritized their citizens. You know this is a race: me before you, because we made the vaccines, as correctly stated by Secretary Galvez.)
“‘Yan ang mahirap sa’yo eh, you want to be relevant. And you know, sometimes you make an idiotic stance, ‘yong mga gano’n na ‘they deserve the best.’ Anak ka ng— bakit ako, I would give them the worst? Mamatay ka na, hindi ko iwanan ‘yong mga frontliner, and you do not need really to be redundant about it,” he fumed.
(That is the problem with you, you want to be relevant. And you know, sometimes you make an idiotic stance, like saying that ‘they deserve the best’. You son of a— why would I give them the worst? Even if you die, I would not leave frontliners, and you do not need really to be redundant about it.)
Before 600,000 doses of Sinovac’s vaccine arrived on Sunday, Robredo and fellow opposition member Senator Francis Pangilinan called for a further review. Both noted that Pfizer and Astrazeneca’s vaccines were given a positive recommendation by HTAC.
Robredo and Pangilinan were not the first to make such calls: last Saturday, doctors from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) said that Sinovac’s vaccines must be tested first before it is used on PGH workers.
However, the government started vaccinating health workers to ensure that they would be protected from the disease, even without the HTAC nod. Duterte said that the processes that the vaccine undertook are already sufficient.
Among the first to legally receive vaccines are PGH Director Dr. Gerardo Legazpi and other hospital staffers, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) chief Eric Domingo, and other officials like MMDA chairperson Benhur Abalos.
Sinovac has secured an emergency use authorization, but FDA initially said that the China-based company’s vaccines should not be used for health workers due to its low efficacy ratings.
But eventually, it was approved for use on health workers by the National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (Nitag).
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