BY WENDELL VIGILIA and JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR
THE camp of Vice President Leni Robredo yesterday said the Duterte administration spends more time attacking the Vice President “than responding to the real, urgent problems of our people and nation.”
Robredo’s spokesman, former Akbayan party-list Rep. Ibarra Gutierrez, said it has become the default mode of the administration to blame the Vice President for its failures.
“Kulelat tayo sa pagkuha ng bakuna? Awayin si Leni Robredo. Mabagal ang pagtugon sa bagyo at baha? Siraan si Leni Robredo. Milyon-milyon ang nawalan ng trabaho? Insultuhin si Leni Robredo. Tapos sila daw ang ‘hindi namumulitika?’ (We’re the last to get vaccines?
Quarrel with Leni Robredo. Slow response to typhoon and flooding? Discredit Leni Robredo. Millions lost jobs? Insult Leni Robredo. And now they’re saying they’re not politicking?” Gutierrez said.
Gutierrez issued the statement after President Duterte’s latest attack on the Vice President for her statements about COVID-19 vaccines made by the private Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech, which were donated by China.
She said the CoronaVac vaccine should have secured a positive recommendation from the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) before it was used on health workers, as required by the Universal Health Care Law.
Duterte, on Monday night during his weekly “Talk to the People” address, said Robredo is creating doubt on effectiveness of CoronaVac, the first vaccine supply acquired by the Philippines, and which kicked off the national vaccination program on March 1.
“I hope that next time kung wala naman siyang masabi na tama, she just would maybe shut up. (So I hope that next time, if she cannot say anything right, she just would maybe shut up),” the President said.
Gutierrez said Robredo would just leave the blame game to Malacañang and “we’ll just continue with our work.”
The President, in his address, said Robredo should remember when she speaks that she is the second highest official in the country.
He noted the government has been trying to convince the public to get vaccinated. “Now, here comes the statement na hindi niya, hindi niya binasa kumpleto ang batas. With just a simple statement, magke-create ka ng doubt (Now, here comes the statement that she based on a law that she had not completely read. With just a simple statement, you created doubt),” he said.
Duterte was referring to Robredo’s statement echoing the call of some health workers for the HTAC to review Sinovac’s vaccine before its use on the public.
Some health workers, the first priority in the vaccination program, have expressed their intent to wait for other brands of vaccines.
The President said the HTAC is recommendatory body, and its recommendation is not necessary because Sinovac’s vaccine was donated and not bought, and it has been given emergency use authorization (EUA) by the Food and Drug Administration.
Last week, Duterte told Robredo to go buy vaccines abroad so she would stop criticizing his government vaccination program.
In response, Robredo said Duterte was not behaving and talking like a president, and being touchy.
Duterte on Monday again urged the public to trust and support the government and its vaccination program.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Sinovac is being used in 15 countries and one of the top five vaccines against the COVID-19 being used in the world.
Galvez said 120 countries have already stated their vaccination programs with the top vaccine made by Pfizer which has been administered to 84 million people, followed by AstraZeneca with 46.5 million, Moderna with 46 million, Sinopharm 40 million, and Sinovac with 36 million.