Duterte orders disclosure of COVID-19 vaccine deals to Senate leader

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 19 2021 07:29 PM

A pharmacist holds a vial with the Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine on the opening day of a vaccination center at the Festhalle in Frankfurt, Germany, Jan. 19, 2021. Boris Roessler, Pool/Reuters

MANILA— President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the disclosure of the prices of COVID-19 vaccines to Senate President Vicente Sotto III, whose colleagues are investigating the country's inoculation plan, an administration ally said on Tuesday.

Duterte told vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez to inform Sotto of the agreements, said Sen. Christopher Go, a former longtime aide of the President. 

"Nagkausap na rin po kami ni Senate President Sotto tungkol dito para magkaroon ng transparency," he said in a taped message. 

(I have talked to Senate President Sotto about this so there could be transparency.)

Duterte on Monday offered to buy Pfizer vaccines for the Senate as he scored some of its members for pushing the government to buy jabs from the US-based pharmaceutical giant. Some senators also earlier questioned the procurement of the vaccine from China's Sinovac which was reportedly pricier and less efficient than other brands. 

"Tell him thanks but no thanks! I wonder what gave him the idea that the senators favor Pfizer?” Sotto told Senate reporters, as quoted in a media report. 

Senators "favor any correctly priced vaccine," he said on Twitter.

"I wonder who gave PRRD (Duterte) the wrong info that senators favor Pfizer?" he said. 

Go said Duterte's recent remarks were based on what he read in a news column.

"Hindi ko naman po kontrolado ang nasa isipan ng ating Pangulo," he said. 

(I don't control what is in the President's mind.)

Galvez earlier Tuesday said negotiations for vaccines are covered by confidentiality agreements, which prevent authorities from divulging prices to the public. 

"Maaari pong mawala sa atin ang 148 million doses ng nine-negotiate po natin sa vaccine companies kapag lumabag po tayo sa ating kasunduan," he told reporters in an online briefing.

(We can lose the 148 million doses that we are negotiating with vaccine companies if we violate the agreement.)

The government "will always try to negotiate for vaccines that are safe, effective and cost-efficient," said Galvez, who is also the Chief Implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19.

"Wala pong korapsyon," said the former military general.

(There is no corruption.) 

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Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Malacañang said on Tuesday he told reporters in an online briefing.