VP Leni on Duterte’s ‘go shop for vaccine’ remark: ‘Where are we going to buy if we’re too late’

Published March 3, 2021, 11:18 PM

by Raymund Antonio

For Vice President Leni Robredo, securing supplies of coronavirus vaccines is not only about money.

Vice President Leni Robredo

And if she has the money to pay for the vaccines, she will not find any because the government acted late.

“So ngayon, kahit pa bigyan nila ako ng napakaraming pera, saan pa ba tayo bibili na napaka-late na natin, napaka-late na nating gumalaw? So talagang mahihirapan tayo (So now, even if they give me lots of money, where are we going to buy when we’re already too late, we acted too late? So, it’s going to be really difficult),” Robredo said in “The Mangahas Interviews” posted on GMA News’ Facebook page Wednesday, March 3.

The vice president was responding to Duterte’s challenge to her to do vaccine shopping outside the country.

Duterte said he will give her money to purchase the COVID-19 vaccine.

Robredo described as “late” the government’s COVID-19 vaccine procurement process.

The lady official said she has urged the government to prepare to order doses of the COVID-19 vaccines as soon as the news started that there’s already one arriving.

But she remembered Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque telling her that “Ah, wala, 10 steps ahead na tayo. si Presidente, 10 steps ahead na sa iyo (We are 10 steps ahead. The President is 10 steps ahead of you).” “Ayon—ito iyong ’10 steps ahead’ natin (Right. This is the ’10 steps ahead’),” Robredo said.

The Philippines was the last country in Southeast Asia to start inoculating its citizens with the COVID-19 vaccine. But even then, it was only because of a donation from China’s Sinovac that this became possible. Another batch of vaccines—this time, from AstraZeneca—will also be arriving via the United Nations’ COVAX facility.

Both batches are donations. Robredo explained this was the same problem the government had with the indemnity clause requirement by the vaccine manufacturers.

Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and even Sinovac had to wait for the Senate to pass a law providing for an indemnity fund for the recipients of the vaccines in case of adverse effects.

Robredo shared that the Senate only received a request to pass an indemnification law in February, or a couple of weeks before some 117,000 Pfizer vaccine doses were supposed to arrive in the country.

This requirement, the vice president cited, was already listed on the website of the pharmaceutical companies producing the vaccines weeks before.