Sen. Marcos calls vaccination plan ‘half baked’

Published January 16, 2021, 4:31 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Authorities should go back to the drawing board and finalize their “half-baked” plans for inoculating Filipinos against COVID-19, Senator Imee Marcos said on Saturday, Jan. 16, a day after the Senate Committee of Whole ended its inquiry.


Marcos gave her personal assessment on the government’s immunization program a day after the Senate committee inquiry. She found the briefing and explanation of the implementers lacking and confusing.

“Sa totoo lang eh talagang bitin na bitin ‘yong mga tanong natin…Bitin na bitin kami, kulang na kulang ang impormasyon kung tutuusin (To be honest, I was really not satisfied with the answers to our questions. We were not satisfied, we did not get the information we needed, actually),” she said in an interview over radio DWIZ on Saturday, January 16.

“Sana madetalye pa nang kaunti. Kasi medyo half-baked ‘yong plano kung tutuusin, at napakalayo natin sa ating mga kapitbahay kung ikukumpara natin (I hope they detail it further. Because the plans are quite half-baked, and incomparably far to what our neighbors are doing),” she added.

Marcos said senators were particularly confused about the contradicting statements of vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. on the government’s much-criticized negotiations with Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech for the supply of 25 million doses of coronavirus vaccines.

Galvez earlier said the initial 50,000 doses from Sinovac will arrive in the country by February 20.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to give the company’s vaccine an emergency use authorization (EUA). The National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementer said the EUA may be issued to Sinovac before the said date.

During Friday’s Committee of the Whole hearing, however, Galvez told senators that the country’s vaccine deal with Sinovac is not yet a done deal. His deputy, Vince Dizon, also said that the agreement is still up for the final recommendation of the government’s vaccine experts panel and the FDA’s decision on Sinovac’s EUA application.

“Nalito talaga ako sa kanila (I was really confused). Alin ba talaga ‘yong totoo (What is really the truth)?” Marcos said.

Aside from the agreement with Sinovac, she also lamented the national government’s stringent protocols for the vaccines purchased by local government units and the private sector.

“Ako, back to the drawing board muna sila. Huwag nang hearing nang hearing, Nauubos ang oras nila kae-explain, eh nabubulol na, paiba-iba na ang sagot…Ang pinakamahirap mag-interpellate at magtanong sa taong hindi alam sagot, at alam mo namang hindi makakasagot (I’d say that they go back to the drawing board. No more hearings, they are just wasting time explaining. It’s difficult to interpellate and ask question to people who do not know the answers, when you know they really cannot answer),” Marcos said.

“Kumpletuhin muna ‘yong plano na talagang masusi at masinop. Huwag ‘yong paiba-iba. Dapat yong maliwanag muna (Complete the plans, make sure they are comprehensive and organized. And not contradicting. It should be clear),” she added.

In wrapping up the chamber’s hearing Friday, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said they “were able to gather enough data and information to come up with sound and relevant recommendation that will give answers to some of the concerns, if not all of the concerns, of the public.”

The committee is expected to come up later with a report containing its recommendations about the government’s vaccination program.