Show sense of urgency in vaccine procurement, Lacson urges DOH

Published January 5, 2021, 3:18 PM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Panfilo M. Lacson on Tuesday said It is high time the Department of Health (DOH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) show a sense of urgency in procuring coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson (Joseph Vidal/Senate PRIB)

Lacson said the DOH and FDA should exercise their power to issue compassionate special permits especially for those who most need them.

“Why don’t they exercise their power to issue a compassionate special permit? Their officials keep claiming they are still conducting studies. Mamamatay tayo sa ka-study eh,” he said in a radio interview. (We will die as we continue to study and study.)

“We have to start the rollout of the vaccines soonest. Kahiya-hiya ang nangyayari sa atin,” he added. (Our situation is pitiful.)

This compounds the incompetence of some officials who drop the ball when it comes to procuring vaccines from other countries, he pointed out.

Lacson said a friend who had dinner with Chinese ambassador Huang Xilian recalled the envoy’s observation that while some Philippine officials indicated they want to procure vaccines from China, no one wanted to commit.

Without such a commitment from Philippine officials to procure China-made vaccines, Lacson noted “China may allocate them to other countries.”

On the other hand, Lacson said it is shameful that the prospective entry of vaccines to the Philippines stemmed from the initiative of the private sector instead of the government.

“Isn’t it disgusting that the private sector is taking the lead to bring in vaccines? This should put the government to shame, especially considering that the Department of Finance (DOF) has announced multimillion-peso loans for vaccines,” he said.

“Nakailang loan na tayo sa vaccine, bakit hanggang ngayon wala pang vaccine?” he added, stressing the priority now is to focus on the immunization of 110 million Filipinos. (How many loans have we negotiated for vaccines? How come there are still no vaccines?)