After missing out at least twice on getting COVID vaccines early, the government should finally act with a sense of urgency, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said Monday.
Lacson also said that while the Department of Health had presented a seemingly good vaccination program on paper, the implementation is a different matter altogether.
“Nag-usap kami ni Senate President (Vicente Sotto III), kung makinig kami sa briefing materials walang problema, para tayong nasa langit. But it’s in the implementation. Ang reaction, ang responses to emergencies,” Lacson said at the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing on the vaccination program.
He cited at least two instances where the government lost opportunities to get vaccines.
The first instance had the Department of Health taking 118 days or four months to reply to Pfizer’s June 24 letter that provided an overview of its candidate vaccine.
“How long did it take us to just sign the CDA? 118 days or 4 months. Now if 25-26 deaths per day and 1,300 infections per day hindi urgent, I don’t know what is, kung ganyan kabagal ang kilos natin just to sign a CDA, 118 days,” he said at the Senate hearing on the government’s vaccination program.
Lacson said the second instance involved China National Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. (Sinopharm), which sent a letter to Duque last May 12.
In its May 12 letter, it expressed interest in having collaborative clinical trials with the Philippines for its subject vaccine.
“Alam mo gaano katagal bago sumagot ang DOH? 10 days… So it took us 10 days just to reply,” Lacson said.
Lacson also cited a recent dinner with the Chinese ambassador, where he was overheard saying Philippine officials “keep flirting with us (on the vaccines), but we need their commitment and they don’t want to commit.”
“That’s where we are. That’s our problem. Sa ease of doing business lang bagsak na, sa CDA pa lang four months or 118 days just to sign the CDA,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lacson said that while Galvez is doing his best to fast-track everything, it may not be good to hang around with incompetent people in the long run.
“Ang incompetence like the coronavirus is infectious. Nakakahawa yan. If you hang around with incompetent people in the long run mahahawa ka,” he said.