Purchase of COVID-19 vaccines is not VP’s responsibility

Published March 17, 2021, 1:35 PM

by Raymund Antonio

The spokesman of Vice President Leni Robredo has pointed out that it is the present administration’s job to purchase coronavirus vaccines for Filipinos.

(Photo by THOMAS KIENZLE / AFP)

During an interview with Bombo Radyo Iloilo, lawyer Ibarra Gutierrez said that purchasing vaccines is not as easy as going to the market.

He made the statement as President Duterte seemed to have taken another swipe at Robredo in his last Monday’s public address because of her criticism of the delay in procuring COVID-19 vaccines.

Last week, Duterte told the vice president that he will give her a basket to go shop for COVID-19 vaccines. This was after she questioned China’s Sinovac for skipping a step in the country’s vaccine procurement and distribution process.

“Unang-una, hindi naman niya trabaho iyan. Trabaho talaga iyan ng gobyerno. At hindi naman maganda na parang—ano iyan, parang palengke, ‘di ba (First of all, that is not her job. That really is the job of the government. It doesn’t look good—it’s like a market, right?),” Gutierrez said in response to Duterte’s latest tirade against the administration’s critics.

On Monday night, the President told critics to “join the lady” and shop for vaccine supply if they can find any. He even said that he will “honor” the vaccines they can acquire if they succeed in negotiating for a supply.

But Gutierrez pointed out a flaw in this plan.

Vaccines must be purchased through a government-to-government agreement, and through the World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX facility, which will distribute donated COVID-19 vaccines to lower-income countries.

Gutierrez explained that what Robredo meant when she criticized the slow action of the government when it comes to procuring vaccines is the wasted opportunity to order the vaccines and prepare the requirements on time.

As early as last year, when news about the vaccines came out, the vice president appealed to the government to prepare the needed documents for the eventual purchase of the vaccines.

“So hindi iyan usapin ng basta makakabili ka, parang bumili ka ng gamot sa botika, ‘di ba. Mahaba at masalimuot na proseso ito (That’s not about you wanting to buy as if you are buying medicines from the pharmacy, right. The process of procuring vaccines is long and difficult),” Gutierrez said, lamenting that the Philippines lost an opportunity because the government did not comply with the requirements on time.

He explained said that Robredo is doing her part to help the people, but emphasized that it is the job of the government to roll out its vaccination program successfully.

“Nakakalungkot lang kasi kapag nakita mo iyong ibang bansa, tuloy-tuloy na ang vaccine rollout, tayo medyo mabagal (It is saddening to see how other countries continue with their vaccine rollout while we’re a little slow),” he added.

 
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