Panelo twits ‘mayor’ for slow COVID-19 vaccine rollout claims
MANILA, Philippines — Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo has belied a local executive’s claim that the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is slow, saying that was a thing of the past when the country had few vials.
Panelo, who spoke during President Rodrigo Duterte’s pre-recorded briefing on Thursday night, said that what critics of the administration must do right now is to unite with them in fighting the pandemic and refrain from mudslinging.
“Eh sala sa lamig, sala sa init eh, ‘di mo malaman sa halip na matuwa tayo, palagi nila sinasabi mabagal. Ngayon naman daw iba naman ang reklamo, meron namang isa dyan, alkalde. Mabagal daw ang rollout,” Panelo told Duterte.
(They criticize whatever we do, we cannot understand why instead of being happy, they always say that it is slow. Now, a different complaint has surfaced, there’s a mayor, saying the rollout is slow.)
“Mabagal no’ng simula, sapagkat mabagal pa ang dating. Ngayong dumarating na ang marami, eh syempre mas mabilis, mas madali, sapagkat marami na. Eh sana po ‘yong mga kaibigan natin dyan sa kabila, eh maghunos dili naman kayo,” he added.
(It was slow initially because only a few vaccines arrived. But now that more vaccines are coming in, of course, it would be quicker, faster, because there are more available. I hope our friends on the other side of the political fence could reflect on this.)
Panelo did not mention who the mayor is, but Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso recently swiped at the national government, claiming that the vaccine rollout is very slow and that vials in national warehouses have been languishing there.
Moreno said during a briefing on Tuesday that the government’s distribution of the vaccines is not only slow but “super slow”, adding that densely-populated cities like Manila have received a small allocation of vaccines even though it is part of the pandemic’s epicenter in the Philippines.
“I don’t know if they are letting the vaccines grow inside their refrigerators, that I don’t know [,,.] if you believe that vaccination is the solution to restart the economy, to bring back normalcy to people’s lives, the vaccines should not be stored for so long in different warehouses,” Moreno said in Filipino.
“Now, for those who want to get Pfizer, we were just discussing and planning a while ago because the vaccine supply seems unreliable: the global supply is unreliable, but even the local release is unreliable because it is so slow. I would be telling you this: vaccine deployment is not slow, because it is super slow,” he added.
Contrary to Panelo’s claims, Moreno said that the vaccine disbursement he is referring to is the recent shipments from pharmaceutical companies AstraZeneca and Pfizer — which arrived late April and just this week.
Aside from the unnamed local executive, Panelo also said that a senator he knows has not been satisfied with whatever the government is doing, even if he claims that the country is already doing better.
“No’ng wala pa ang bakuna, panay ang reklamo niya, nasaan ang bakuna […] Pagkatapos, no’ng dumating na ang bakuna, aba eh sabi naman niya, ang tagal naman dumating ng bakuna na ‘yan. Ngayon na dagsa ang bakuna […] ayan, ang dami-dami nating bakuna, sobra-sobra na, malaki na ang magiging utang natin,” Panelo said.
(When the vaccines had not yet arrived, they were complaining and looking for it. Afterwards, when the vaccines arrived, they said that the vaccine distribution is slow. Now that we have plenty of vaccines, it’s there, we have a lot of shots, so plenty, we will have huge loans.)
“Sana’y maging bukas ang kalooban natin na magkaisa na tayo, para matapos na itong problema natin sa pandemya,” he added.
(I hope that they would be open to unity so that we could finally solve our problems relating to the pandemic.)
The country is banking on COVID-19 vaccines to restore normalcy and gradually mend the economy after dealing with the worst recession in 2020. It is also seen to stop the recent COVID-19 surge that saw active cases balloon to over 200,000 during its peak in April.
However, even as the country had already received over seven million vaccines, just around two million individuals have received at least a first dose as of Tuesday, May 11.
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