Roque says Robredo ‘volunteered’ to make vaccine infomercial with Duterte
MANILA, Philippines — Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque claimed on Wednesday that Vice President Leni Robredo “volunteered” to appear in an infomercial with President Rodrigo Duterte to boost the confidence of Filipinos in COVID-19 vaccines.
Robredo did not, however, “volunteer” to make such an infomercial, although she did say in her weekly radio program last Sunday that she was “open” to the suggestion, which was made by Sen. Joel Villanueva, not by her.
Roque made that remark about Robredo volunteering to make the informercial during the taped briefing with Duterte, which aired late Wednesday night.
“Our critics have never really run out of things to criticize. Before the vaccines arrived they asked: ‘Where are the vaccines?’ When the vaccines arrived: ‘Why Chinese?’ When other brands arrived: ‘Why can’t we choose?’ So there’s really no end to that,” Roque said in Filipino when Duterte asked him if he had something to say.
[Original statement: “Ang ating mga kritiko hindi po talaga nauubos ang pagpuna. Bago dumating ang bakuna ang tanong nila, nasaan ang bakuna. Nang dumating ang bakuna, bakit Chinese? Nang dumating ang ibang brand, bakit hindi pwedeng makapili, so wala po talagang katapusan ‘yan.”]
“But I think now that we have shown that the vaccinations are increasing, suddenly she volunteers. She says she wants to appear in an infomercial with you. I thought: ‘After discrediting us repeatedly, now that our vaccinations are becoming successful, she’s trying to join us.”
[Original statement: “Pero I think ngayon po, ngayong napapakita natin na dumadami na’ng nagbabakuna, eh bigla namang nagvolunteer, gusto raw niyang umappear sa infomercial kasama kayo. Sa loob-loob ko, ‘matapos tayo siraan nang siraan, eh ngayong nagiging matagumpay ang ating vaccinations, eh makikisama ngayon.”]
Last May 20, Villanueva suggested that the country’s two top leaders could appear in a joint public service announcement to boost public confidence in COVID-19 vaccines.
So it was not Robredo who floated the idea. Her spokesperson, Barry Gutierrez also did say that Robredo was open to doing an infomercial with Duterte — if she would be asked to do so.
After Villanueva made the suggestion, Roque said Robredo must first clarify her stand on the vaccines, citing her supposed previous pronouncements on vaccines from Chinese pharmaceutical companies.
In response, Gutierrez said that Robredo’s stance on the issue remained the same, as she had been repeatedly urging Filipinos to get vaccinated.
On Wednesday, Roque repeated his claim that Robredo would want to join Duterte in an infomercial.
“Our vice president said she would want to join you in an infomercial on vaccine confidence,” Roque told Duterte, speaking partly in Filipino. “I told her that I’m sure you would study what contribution our vice president can give. As we know, she’s one of the noisiest critics of everything that we have done — including vaccinations.”
In November 2020, a Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey said that 66% of Filipinos were willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19 when vaccines become available. The number has since gone down, with a more recent SWS survey saying that only 32% were willing to be vaccinated.
This appeared to agree with a recent Pulse Asia survey, the results of which came out last March, that 61% were not willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19, with safety concerns being their top reason.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.