The Senate panel led by Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III that met with vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. on Wednesday night has committed to honor and respect the terms Galvez had struck with makers of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines so as not to put them in jeopardy.
Galvez, according to Senator Panfilo M, Lacson, told the panel that deliveries of the vaccines would start in the first quarter of 2021.
‘’We were shown the documents. And we have no doubt about Secretary Galvez’s integrity and his sincerity to accomplish his task,’’ Lacson said on Thursday.
President Duterte had given his imprimatur to the meeting of Galvez with senators to clear insinuations of overpricing and inconsistencies by Galvez and Health Secretary Francisco Duque when they appeared twice before the Senate Committee of the Whole last week.
Senator Ronald dela Rosa was a member and Baguio city Mayor Benjamin Magalong also attended the meeting.
Galvez, Lacson, Dela Rosa, and Magalong are graduates of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA).
‘’Secretary Galvez’s briefing clarified a lot of issues and concerns raised by the senators that have remained unresolved until last (Wednesday) night. We advised him to explain in tomorrow’s (Friday’s) hearing the same way that he did last (Wednesday) night, without violating the terms of the agreement with the vaccine suppliers,’’ Lacson said.
Galvez had consistently refused to cite price tags of vaccines to be bought by the Philippine government as they might violate the ‘’non-disclosure agreement’’ that was required by vaccine makers.
During the meeting, Lacson said they advised Galvez ‘’to mind his back, front, left, and right sides.’’
‘’He may have the best of intentions but there may be people pushing him out front to do the talking and explaining to take advantage of his credibility while pursuing their own interests. He assured us that he will make it very hard for those people to even have an opening for that opportunity,’’ he added.
Lacson said that last Tuesday, he received a message from Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong, relaying Galvez’s request for a meeting to apologize personally “for the things he mentioned about me in his presentation during the T3 Zoom meeting last week – which I mentioned in my manifestation during the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing last Jan. 15.”
‘’He also promised to brief me and disclose all the details of their vaccine procurement, including the prices of the different brands,’’ he said.
‘’We share the same goal – to ensure our people are vaccinated against COVID-19, with no room for overpricing and other irregularities. The executive and legislative departments must work together in this regard,’’ Lacson said.