HEALTH Secretary Francisco Duque III yesterday assured the public there was no mishandling of negotiations between the Philippine government and pharmaceutical giant,
Pfizer, for a supply of vaccines for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In a statement, Duque said the Department of Health acted with urgency and in
accordance with government protocols in the negotiations with Pfizer.
“There is no such thing as dropping the ball. Negotiations are ongoing,” he said a day after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin Jr. said “somebody dropped the ball” on the
government’s plan to secure 10 million doses of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech.
The Pfizer vaccine is the world’s first approved and fully tested COVID-19 vaccine administered to a person. The UK and the US have started using the vaccine. Pfizer was reported to be delivering10 million doses to the Philippines next month.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson yesterday said it was a Cabinet secretary who “dropped the ball.” He did not say who but described the official as the “captain ball” who “manages to stay in the game because the coach refuses to replace him.”
Lacson has repeatedly called for Duque’s resignation, amid the surge of COVID-19 cases and corruption allegations at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation of which the health secretary is board chairman.
Locsin, at the deliberation of the Commission on Appointments yesterday, declined to give a name when asked by Lacson “who dropped the ball.”
Duque said while the DOH wants to expedite the negotiations, “there are systems and protocols in place and we cannot cut corners.”
He said that from the time the DOH was instructed to sign on behalf of the Philippine government, the department’s legal and technical teams have been working closely with Pfizer to finalize the agreement and negotiate on several contentious provisions. And after a thorough review with concerned agencies, including the Office of the President, a confidential disclosure agreement (CDA) was signed on the same day it was finalized.
“Sec (vaccine czar) Carlito Galvez signed a CDA with Pfizer in November. He will be in the best position to answer questions on the status of our negotiations with them,” said Duque.