Cocky? Duterte spokesman says won't tweak COVID-19 vaccine messaging

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 14 2021 03:47 PM

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque during a press briefing of the IATF-EID at the Quezon Memorial Circle on July 30, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman said on Thursday he won't adjust his messaging on COVID-19 vaccines, after some lawmakers criticized his recent remark that Filipinos cannot be choosy on which jab they would get.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque cited an opinion poll that reportedly revealed he was the most trusted member of Duterte's Cabinet.

"Sa akin naman po, habang suportado tayo ng mga ating kababayan, hindi tayo magbabago—diretsong salita, katunayan lamang, walang palamuti, walang paligoy-ligoy," he told reporters in an online briefing.

(For me, as long as our compatriots support us, we will not change—straight talk, truth only, no frills, no beating around the bush.)

Roque recently said that Filipinos cannot choose which COVID-19 vaccines they would get from the government because only jabs from China's Sinovac Biotech would be available until mid-year.

"Totoo po, meron tayong lahat na karapatan para sa mabuting kalusugan pero hindi naman po pwede na pihikan dahil napakaraming Pilipino na dapat turukan," he said in a press briefing.

(it is true, we all have the right to good health, but one cannot be choosy, there are many Filipinos who need to be vaccinated.)

This prompted Sen. Panfilo Lacson to say: "Cockiness has no place in a pandemic situation."

"Instead of building people’s confidence by starting with a higher efficacy vaccine and accomplish its intended purpose, to tell them they can’t be choosy is definitely not a smart information campaign to promote mass inoculation," the lawmaker said on Twitter.

Roque said he had featured doctors and vaccine experts in his press briefings.

"Prayoridad natin na mag-build ng kumpiyansa sa hanay ng ating mga kababayan. Siguro po nagkakaiba tayo ng mga style," he said.

(Our priority is to build confidence among our compatriots. Perhaps we just have different styles.)

He also said COVID-19 vaccines from US-based Pfizer and Russia's Gamaleya might arrive in the Philippines next month. The Philippines is also set to get 50,000 doses from Sinovac in February.