The government is bracing for a possible deluge of criticisms of alleged preferential treatment for certain politicians if they get an early access to coronavirus vaccine.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said it would be up to government officials to decide if they want to be vaccinated but the opposition would likely criticize them for getting inoculated ahead of others.
“Kung mayroon pong ilang mga matataas na opisyales na nais na magpaturok para magsilbing halimbawa na wala naman pong masamang epekto sa kanila ang bakuna, we welcome that. Pero gaya ng aking sinabi po, tandaan ninyo ‘pag nangyari iyan, iyong oposisyon sasabihin na naman mayroong VIP treatment (If there are some high ranking government officials who want to get vaccinated to serve as example that the vaccine has no bad effect, we welcome that. But like I said, if that happens, the opposition will claim there is VIP treatment),” he said during a televised press briefing.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier agreed to be among the first to receive the coronavirus vaccine once regulatory authorities determine the safety and effectiveness of the vaccines. He also reportedly encouraged other government officials to take the vaccine shot to assure the public of its safety.
Roque said it would be the personal decision of government officials should they decide to take the coronavirus shot.
“Alam ninyo po personal na desisyon iyan ng ating mga namumuno ‘no pero kapag nangyari po iyan, babatuhin na naman ang gobyerno na inuuna ng bakuna ang mga VIPs gaya ng nangyari doon sa PCR test ‘no. So either way talagang mayroon pong mga kritiko na mambabato. (You know it will be the personal decision of our leaders but if that happens, the government will be criticized for prioritizing the vaccines for VIPs like what happened to the PCR test. So either way, there will be critics attacking them),” he added.
He noted that President Duterte remained willing to take the coronavirus vaccine to help build public confidence in the government’s immunization program. He said the President has volunteered to take the medicine when the Food and Drug Administration gives its approval for use.