Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana lashed out at government critics whom he accused of adding political color to China’s donation of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines to the country.
Lorenzana also accused critics of spreading lies about the Sinovac vaccine for their political propaganda at the expense of the public: “Now is not the time to play doomsayer, now is not the time for games, and most [especially,] now is not the time for politics.”
“This is just the first brand to arrive, among other brands that are scheduled. Don’t politicize the vaccine donation and use it as a political propaganda. Hindi maganda (It’s not good). It reflects badly on us as a nation,” he said in a statement Monday night.
Lorenzana, who opted not to take the Sinovac vaccine due to age restrictions, said he doesn’t see any positive result if some stakeholders will continue to find fault on the vaccine only because it came from China.
He claimed that Sinovac has been supplying “effective and affordable” anti-rabies, anti-tetanus, and flu vaccines to the country since 2009.
“Ginagalit, tinatakot pa ng iilan ang mga tao sa kinakalat nilang mga fake news. Please stop. Tama na muna ang pulitika. (Some people are making the people hate and fear [the vaccine] by spreading fake news. Please stop. Let us stop the politics),” he stated.
“On the other hand, criticizing the vaccine without really knowing the technical facts will only discourage our people from joining the vaccination program,” he added.
The government started its rollout of the vaccination program on Monday using 600,000 doses of Sinovac vaccines which were donated by China to the country.
Some stakeholders expressed fear that the vaccine donations will affect the way the government will handle its other issues with China, including the two countries’ overlapping claims in the South China Sea.
Even President Duterte refuted these claims, saying that he continues to implement an independent foreign policy.
He said China has asked nothing in return after they donated their vaccines to the government.
Meanwhile, Lorenzana encouraged the critics to spread facts so the people’s confidence on the vaccines will increase.
He cited the initiative of other countries like Thailand, which he called the “second richest” country in Southeast Asia, to rollout the vaccination program using Sinovac vaccines, as well as Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Singapore.
“As our government rolls out its vaccination program, let us all work together to make it successful. Let us encourage our people to participate in the program and have themselves vaccinated,” he said.
The Defense Chief assured the public that other brands of vaccines will start arriving soon so they will have other options to take in the government’s inoculation program.