Robredo must clarify stand on COVID-19 vaccines before joint infomercial is considered

Unlike her camp, Malacañang was not readily open to the idea of President Duterte teaming up with Vice President Leni Robredo for an infomercial, saying she should clarify her stand on coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines first.

Vice President Robredo and President Duterte (FILE PHOTO / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after Senator Joel Villanueva suggested the production of an infomercial featuring the county's top two leaders to encourage Filipinos to receive the COVID-19 shots.

In a virtual presser on Friday morning, Roque said the Vice President should first be clear about her stand on vaccines, claiming that she expressed initial hesitation to the vaccines made in China.

"Unang-una po, linawin natin kung talagang tatanggapin ng Vice President ang lahat ng bakuna kasi nagkaroon siya ng unang mga deklarasyon na mukhang hindi rin siya approved sa mga Chinese vaccine (First of all, let's be clear if Vice President Robredo will accept all vaccines because she had a declaration that made it appear that she did not approve Chinese vaccines)," he said during the Laging Handa public briefing.

"Pinolitika rin po yung issue na 'yan na para bang may kapalit yung ating WPS issue dito sa mga bakuna (The issue was likewise politicized, saying that the vaccines were in exchange for the West Philippine Sea)," he added.

The Palace official pointed out that President Duterte has always encouraged the public to use any COVID-19 vaccine available.

"Linawin po muna natin kung ano ang paninindigan talaga ni VP Robredo dahil sa mula't mula naman po ang Presidente walang tigil na nagsasabi na ang bakunang pinakamagaling ay ang bakunang nariyan na (Let's be clear about Vice President Robredo's stand first because, from the very beginning, President Duterte has been saying that the best vaccines are the vaccines that are here)," Roque said.

The camp of Vice President Robredo said that she was open to appearing in the infomercial with Duterte and that she was just waiting for someone to get in touch with her to make this project happen.

"Kung talagang may magri-reach out sa kanya at magkasama sila ni Pangulong Duterte para magkaroon ng isang infomercial para lalong maengganyo ang ating mga kababayan na magpabakuna sa lalong madaling panahon, bukas po siya diyan (If someone will reach out to her to bring her and President Duterte in an infomercial to urge the public to vaccinated immediately, she's open to that)," Barry Gutierrez, Robredo's spokesman, said in an interview with Super Radyo DZBB.

"Sa panahon ngayon dapat talaga gagawin natin ang kailangan, magtulungan para lalong maitulak natin ang ating bansa lampas nitong pandemyang mahigit isang taon na nating binubuno (In times like these, we really need to help each other so we can help the country overcome this pandemic that we have been enduring for more than a year now)," he added.

It would not be the first time Duterte and Robredo will be working together if the infomercial pushes through. The President named Robredo as head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council (HUDCC) in 2016 but the latter resigned from her post after she was barred from attending Cabinet meetings.

In November 2019, the Vice President was appointed as co-chair of the Inter-Agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD), but her stint only lasted for 18 days after the President fired her due to mistrust and alleged incompetence to handle the job.