VICE President Leni Robredo yesterday said President Duterte did not act like a national leader when he unleashed a mouthful against her on Monday night for continuing to criticize his alleged preference for China-made COVID-19 vaccines.
“Ang unang dating sa akin parang hindi pangulo ang nagsasalita. Pangalawa sobrang pikon (It seemed the one speaking is not a president. Second, he is so huffy),” Robredo told veteran journalist Malou Mangahas in an online interview, referring to Duterte’s latest public address on Monday night.
Robredo scored the President for his penchant for rejecting proposals coming from the opposition, saying “the public should be free to offer suggestions.”
Duterte last Monday dared Robredo to shop for vaccines abroad, saying he is prepared to provide her with funds if she can find vials to purchase.
“Ngayon kung gusto mo talaga para mahinto ka, kunin mo ‘yong basket mo, mamalengke ka doon sa labas ng bakuna. Bigyan kita pera (Now, if you really want, just so you’ll stop, bring your basket and shop for vaccines outside. I’ll give you money,” the President said.
The Vice President, however, said the issue is more than just having the money to pay for the vaccines.
“It’s not as easy as bibigyan mo ako ng pera, bibili ako (It’s not as easy as you’ll give me money and I’ll just buy,” she said.
Duterte’s latest rant came a day after Robredo said the private Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech should not be given special treatment and should be made to undergo the stringent process like AstraZeneca and Pfizer.
Robredo backed the protest staged by workers of the Philippine General Hospital and the Healthcare Professionals Alliance against COVID-19, saying they are not particularly against CoronaVac because it is China-made but because it has yet to be subjected to further tests that would ensure its safety and efficacy.
She said Sinovac still needs a positive recommendation from the Health Technology Assessment Council under the Universal Healthcare Law even if the Chinese vaccine has secured an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drugs Administration.
Duterte also took offense after Robredo egged him to get inoculated with Sinovac’s CoronaVac vaccine which was donated by China and shipped to the country on Sunday and were used at the launch of the national vaccination program on Monday.
Duterte also accused Robredo of “baiting” him, saying he thinks she has been egging him to be inoculated with CoronaVac because she suspects he has been inoculated with the vaccine made by China-owned Sinopharm, together with the Presidential Security Group members, last year.
The 77-year-old Duterte earlier expressed preference for Sinopharm which had not been given any permit by Philippines authorities. He has said he would wait for his doctor’s recommendation as to what vaccine would be good for him, given his age.