Senators should help boost public confidence on COVID vaccine, not dwell on on inquiries — Panelo

Published February 7, 2021, 1:00 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Senators might want to help convince more people to get vaccinated against the coronavirus instead of dwelling on conducting inquiries, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said over the weekend.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo

Panelo has urged Senate President Vicente Sotto III to sway his colleagues to join the information drive about the importance of vaccination to fight the new coronavirus disease. 

The latest appeal from the Palace official was made after a recent survey showed many Filipinos were reluctant to receive the coronavirus vaccine due to safety concerns.

“Senate President Sotto, siguro magandang bulungan ninyo yung mga kasamahan sa Senado na sa halip na kung ano-ano ang kinakalaykay nila sa issue ng bakuna, ‘yun na lang. Concentrate na lang doon sa information campaign. Urge people the trust the bakuna (Senate President Sotto, maybe it would be good if you whisper into the ears of your Senate colleagues that instead of rummaging the issue of vaccines, just concentrate on the information campaign. Urge people to trust the vaccine),” he said during his “Counterpoint” program Saturday, Feb. 6.

“Let us educate our kababayans na huwag silang matakot sa pagbabakuna sapagkat hindi naman ito makakapinsala sa atin (Let us educate our fellow countrymen and tell them not to be afraid because it will not harm us),” he said.

The Senate recently conducted a hearing on the government’s vaccination program, grilling several administration officials involved in the procurement and distribution of the highly-anticipated drugs to prevent coronavirus.

Some lawmakers called on the government to reveal the vaccine prices but officials declined due to existing confidentiality pact with the suppliers. 

President Duterte has vouched for the integrity of vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., and questioned critics for supposedly being preoccupied with the alleged corruption in the procurement of the vaccines. 

He insisted that Galvez does not hold the funds, adding any vaccine procurement will go through him and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III.

In the same commentary program, Panelo lamented that critics have not done nothing but find fault in the government’s efforts to address the pandemic, including its procurement of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines. 

He said the government has also extended assistance to people severely affected by the pandemic and yet the critics have turned a blind eye on this endeavor.

“Kung kayo makapula, makapuna, maka-cirtaicize as if walang ginagawa ang adminsitrasyon Duterte (When you find fault, criticize, it’s as if the Duterte administration is not doing anything),” he said.

“Palibhasa kayo nakarente lang kayo diyan, pa-enjoy enjoy lang sa mga buhay ninyo. Ang expertise ninyo mamula, magpuna, mangbola, mang-intriga. Doon kayo magaling (Because you’re just enjoying your life, your expertise is to criticize, deceive and sow intrigues. That’s your expertise),” he added.

Panelo encouraged the critics to help with the vaccination campaign and instead of putting down the government. 

“Sama-sama na lang tayo. Iangat ang ating bansa. Tigilan na natin ‘yan. Sa halip na puna, ‘di sumama na lang kayo sa amin na bigyan wastong impormasyon ang ating mga kababayan kaugnay sa kahalagahan ng bakuna, na huwag silang matakot, at magtiwala sila  (Let’s join hands and uplift our country. Let’s stop that. Instead of criticizing, join us in giving the right information to our people about the importance of vaccines, that they should not be afraid and instead trust them),” he said.

He said the government, though the Presidential Communications Operations Office, also remains committed to educate the public about vaccination program. 

The PCOO, led by Secretary Martin Andanar, has already launched its “Explain, Explain, Explain” information drive, that includes town hall meetings, to help convince people to get inoculated against COVID-19. 

The government has secured over a hundred million doses of coronavirus vaccines to benefit all Filipino adults in the country.

Once the vaccines arrive in the country starting this month, health workers, seniors, poor and vulnerable citizens, essential workers, uniformed personnel are among the priority recipients of the vaccines.