Frontliners dealing with COVID cases deserve to know the details of the government’s vaccination plan – assuming there is one.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson said this Sunday as he bared this will be the first question he will ask at the Senate Committee of the Whole’s hearing on the matter on Monday.
“Meron ba tayong klarong vaccination plan? Lumalabas sa pakikipagugnayan namin sa duktor at frontliner at nakakaalam, parang walang klarong vaccination plan. Naghihintay ang mga frontliners, kailan daw? Makapagsimula daw ba sa 2021 na sila ang priority sa pagva-vaccinate? Yan ang unang una na dapat itanong,” he said in an interview on DZBB radio.
He said his second line of questioning will involve the two or more opportunities wasted by the government in procuring vaccines, including US-based Pfizer and China-based Sinopharm.
In both cases, he noted the two firms ultimately did not allocate vaccines for the Philippines because the Health Secretary did not act promptly on them.
Lacson also cited information that in the case of Sinopharm, there was an offer to enter into a joint venture with Philippine pharmaceutical firms to conduct clinical trials, research and technology transfer here, such that vaccines can be locally produced in the Philippines.
“Mukhang hindi natugunan yan kaya di natuloy yan,” Lacson noted.
Worse, he said the inaction has given rise to speculations that some in the government are “waiting” in favor of another brand, Sinovac.
“Why did we miss at least two opportunities to procure vaccines? We had set aside more than P70 billion for vaccines for 2021, and we have entered into loans for the purpose, so the money is available. The problem is that someone dropped the ball on the paperwork. Now, even Bangladesh is ahead of us as far as getting vaccines is concerned,” Lacson said.
He added at least 25 Filipinos die and 1,300 are infected by COVID every day. “There should be a sense of urgency. But why are we not seeing it?” he added.
Meanwhile, Lacson said that while the Senate may take up the issue of the Presidential Security Group getting vaccinated first, the priority should be on getting vaccines available for Filipinos.
“It’s a matter of prioritization,” he said.