That awkward moment: Sinovac exec makes quick-witted response when Roque asked if she is single

Published February 24, 2021, 7:26 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

It got a little awkward and personal when Presidential spokesman Harry Roque asked a Sinovac company executive if she is single or married on live television.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (RESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Roque managed to sneak in a question about the marital status of Helen Yang, general manager of Sinovac Biotech, before ending his virtual press briefing in Malacañang Wednesday, Feb. 24.  

She was invited by Roque to shed light about Sinovac vaccine’s safety and efficacy as well as the company’s delivery commitments during media briefing via video conference. The company recently secured an emergency use approval for its coronavirus vaccines in the Philippines. 

The Palace press conference, aired live on state-owned People’s Television-4 and the government communication’s social media pages, was running almost an hour when Roque started to ask about Yang’s company designation and her marital status. 

The personal question, raised by Roque, supposedly came from a Palace staff member apparently smitten with the Sinovac executive.

Roque first asked Yang: “What is your official designation, Ms. Yang?”

She replied: “I’m the General Manager of Sinovac Hong Kong.”

Roque then inquired: “And is it a Miss or Mrs.? Because my Director Ting is asking.”

The personal question made the Sinovac official laugh during the press conference. She then gave quick-witted reply to a question that apparently took her by surprise.

“I can share it privately,” Yang said with a smile, apparently refusing to talk about her marital status on air.

Roque laughed and commented that his staff member would eagerly wait for her response. “Okay. Director Ting, you have the permission to contact her privately. Okay ma’am, thank you very much.”

Before this exchange, Roque asked Yang about the pronunciation of the company.

“How do you pronounce it, is it Si-no-vac or Sai-no-vac? Also for my purpose,” the Palace official said.

Yang replied: “Sure. It’s Sai-no-vac.”

Roque ended Wednesday’s press conference relaying President Duterte’s gratitude to Sinovac as well as the government of China for the vaccine supplies.  The first batch of 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines are expected to delivered in the coming days.

“Since there are no more questions, Ma’am, thank you very much, Ms. Helen Yang of Sinovac Biotech—the General Manager Ms. Helen Yang and of course Director Ting will be awaiting your information,” Roque said. 

“On behalf of the President, Ms. Helen Yang, I’d like to express the gratitude of the President not only to Sinovac but to the government of the People’s Republic of China for once more coming to our assistance in our time of dire need. Thank you very much and the Filipino people are a people that will never forget assistance given when we needed it the most,” he said.