Panelo to Lacson: Resign Senate seat, lead PH vaccine rollout

Published March 22, 2021, 8:29 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo has challenged Senator Panfilo Lacson to resign from his post and offer to lead the government’s vaccination program following the latter’s criticism on the delayed delivery of the vaccines.

Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo (PCOO)
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo (PCOO)

Panelo said Lacson could prove his competence in implementing the vaccine rollout in the country, adding he would be a welcome addition to the administration.

Lacson earlier proposed getting competent people to implement the country’s vaccine rollout, lamenting many opportunities were “missed and lost.” He was reacting to Panelo’s recent dare to show solutions to address the issues related to the delayed delivery fo vaccines.

“Gusto mo palitan natin? Okay. Mukha naman magaling ka eh. Hahamunin naman kita ngayon. Huwag ka naman sasama ng loob eh mukhang napakagaling mo. O sige nga, bakit hindi na lang ikaw? (You want to change them? Okay. You appear to be competent. I’ll challenge you now. Don’t get offended. Since you’re very competent, why not you lead it?),” Panelo said during his Counterpoint program Monday, March 22.

“Bakit hindi ka mag-alok na ikaw ang magpatakbo ng rollout national program. Mag-resign ka bilang senador at ialok mo ang sarili mo kung ikaw ay magaling (Why not offer yourself to lead the rollout national program. Resign as senator and offer yourself if you are competent),” he added. 

“Competent? Sige tingnan natin (Let’s see) how competent you are. You will be welcomed to the administration,” he added. 

After issuing the challenge to Lacson, Panelo defended vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III for their tireless efforts to acquire and distribute vaccines to the people. He said it was easy to criticize these officials when the critic was not in their shoes.

The country has so far received 1.125 million vaccine doses — 600,000 Sinovac doses donated by China and 535,600 vaccines from the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility.  More than 336,000 health workers have received their COVID-19 jabs to date.

Galvez earlier said 400,000 doses donated by China as well as 1 million Sinovac doses bought by the government are expected to be delivered to the country this month.

The Department of Finance (DOF) earlier announced that the government’s budget for vaccine procurement stayed at P82.5 billion. Loans amounting to US$1.2 billion have so far been obtained by the government to bankroll the procurement.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the government has made a partial payment for the Sinovac vaccines. 

“Hindi pa po full payment iyon ‘no, 15% pa lang po kapag na-deliver at saka natin babayaran ng full (It’s not yet a full payment. It’s only 15 percent. Once it is delivered, we will then pay in full),” Roque said during a virtual press conference Monday, March 22.

“Kaya po wala pa tayong ibang nababayaran, ang mga dumating ay mga donasyon (We have not yet made other payments. The ones that arrived are donations),” he added.

Roque said more vaccines are expected to arrive under the tripartite arrangement pursued by local government units and the private sector.