Senate health committee open to probing ‘VIP vaccinations’ – Go
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate health committee is open to investigating the reported “VIP vaccinations”— that is, the vaccination of several local officials who are not on the priority list of the government’s inoculation rollout.
Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, chair of the Senate health committee, said it had been brought to his attention that some individuals, despite not being health frontliners, were allegedly inoculated “with the vaccines that we currently have.”
“It has come to my attention that some favors are being given once the vaccines reach the LGUs [local government units],” Go said, speaking partly in Filipino, in a privilege speech during Wednesday’s session.
“That’s where the VIPs manage to sneak in. This is totally unacceptable. Who are those who give these favors?” he added. “If this needs to be investigated, we will do it. I’m supporting any investigation so we will know the real situation. Let’s investigate this, hold them responsible, and help correct what is wrong.”
According to Go, he is creating a sub-committee to investigate all pandemic-related matters to dispel any doubt about his capability as chair of the health committee due to his ties with the Duterte administration.
Go has been constantly seen near President Rodrigo Duterte during his public addresses and televised weekly briefings with Cabinet members.
“I know that there are those who doubt my intentions as chairman of the Committee on Health and think that I cannot be fair in conducting investigations — that I am biased towards the administration, that I am here to protect the administration in every way possible. This is simply not true,” he said.
“I am not here to protect the administration or the opposition. I have always remained neutral on issues and never hesitated to call out agencies about their lapses in the COVID-19 response, if and when needed,” he added.
The sub-committee will be headed by Sen. Pia Cayetano, the vice chair of the health committee.
“I am doing this to remove any semblance of bias in future investigations and the conduct of other businesses of the Committee on Health. Let us put politics aside,” Go said.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) recently disclosed that it issued show-cause orders to five mayors for getting vaccinated against COVID-19 ahead of the prioritized sector.
“I’m not targeting mayors or other local officials who had themselves vaccinated or who would want to get vaccinated to boost the confidence of their health workers,” Go said.
“What’s really unacceptable are those who force themselves to be treated as VIPs so that they could get ahead of those who really should be first,” he added. “These are the people whose reason for getting vaccinated [ahead of others] is for their own self-interest and not the interest of the majority.”
He then called on the National Task Force Against COVID-19 to submit to the Senate a list of those who had been inoculated with some of the limited doses currently available.
“There should be full disclosure. If our officials followed the order of priority and no favors were given, then they should have nothing to fear,” he said.
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