Not only is he lacking in competence, he is also lacking in a sense of urgency.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson thus described Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Thursday, after detailing how he cost the Philippines a shot at getting COVID vaccines by January.
Lacson was referring to Duque’s claim that he needed to study a Confidentiality Disclosure Agreement, which is needed for the deal to push through. Lacson noted Duque did not act on it for some four months.
“Naroon ako na kailangan pag-aralan. Pero ilang buwan dapat pag-aralan yan? … Siguro kung tututukan mo yan 48-72 hours tapos na,” Lacson said in an interview on DZXL radio.
“Anong klase, isang document pag-aralan mo ng ilang buwan? Yan ang question ng competence and sense of urgency na tinatawag,” he added.
Lacson said that as early as July, Philippine ambassador to Washington Jose Romualdez arranged a meeting between US Secretary Mike Pompeo and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. for the vaccines.
The meeting resulted in an agreement for the Philippines to be prioritized in getting 10 million doses of Pfizer vaccines. Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III assured funding for the vaccines.
But it was Duque who did not act on the CDA that was needed to seal the deal, Lacson said.
“So in the meantime pati ang Pfizer country representative, follow up ng follow up, nahihiya na raw sila Ambassador Jose Romualdez, di pa rin kumikilos si Sec. Duque. Hanggang nakuha ng Singapore, nawalan tayo. At ang pinakamaaga na para magkaroon ng pag-asa uli magka-vaccine, June next year. Yan ang story noon,” he said.
“Ang implication, hindi natin na-grab ang opportunity na pinagkakaloob natin. Hindi tayo mahintay forever ng Pfizer o US government. May ibang bansa na talagang interesado. Yan ang naging problema,” he added.