Whose line is it anyway?


    ‘So now we do not know how this mysterious unapproved vaccine got here, given by a secret figure, and the PSG just willingly rolled up their sleeves and surrendered their arms to be inoculated.’

    I WROTE about a month back, around the time we all heard the news that COVID-19 vaccines from different companies were being rolled out, that our government must guard against a VIP-first policy when it comes to vaccination. As I wrote then, a well-thought out and carefully considered priority plan must be put in place in order to ensure that those who need the vaccine the most will be given priority (health workers, senior citizens, and so on.)

    While I wasn’t quite optimistic that those who consider themselves VIPs (yes, I mean you, politicians) will be deterred by delicadeza nor the threat of a public backlash from throwing their elbows out to get to the head of the line, I didn’t quite anticipate the seemingly innocuous tidbit straight from President Duterte himself that members of the Presidential Security Group and some members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines had already received some sort of a vaccine.

    Can’t blame the President for sharing this particular story—it seemed top of the mind for him, and he just blurted it out, as he is fond of doing. As we all know by now, the man has no filter whatsoever—a frequent occurrence which always sends out his communications official in a frenzy to try and save what is still salvageable from whatever story he shared.

    You can’t exactly call your boss a liar to his face—and the fallout from the story the President told on national television unfolded like a very badly written episode of the old TV Show “Whose Line is Anyway?” You could almost see the panic in the eyes of administration officials as they all coughed up superficial answers to questions raised by the DIY PSG vaccination project.

    Who spent for it? “Oh, it was a gift.” Who gifted the vaccines to the PSG? “Oh, we don’t know.” Aren’t public servants prohibited from receiving gifts or donations? “It was more of a token, and it’s Christmas anyway!” (Never mind that the vaccines were supposedly administered in September.) Aren’t the vaccines smuggled because the FDA hasn’t given emergency approval to any kind of COVID vaccine yet? “It’s justified!” Who authorized the project? “I don’t know.” Did the President know prior? “No.” (Who was supposed to tell him if no one knew, anyway?)

    And so it went, from one disjointed answer to another, with the public just finding more questions instead of answers as officials were trotted out to try and explain the entire fiasco. So now we do not know how this mysterious unapproved vaccine got here, given by a secret figure, and the PSG just willingly rolled up their sleeves and surrendered their arms to be inoculated. I suppose they also administered the vaccines to themselves, as any medical doctor caught administering unapproved vaccines can land in serious trouble.

    You also have to marvel at the sheer inability to talk to each other. In this age of mobile phones, text messages, chat apps, and video calls—it seemed that no one bothered to get everybody on the same page on this issue, hence the tangled lines and answers. You could tell that they were making things up as they went along, and lashed out at whoever was bold enough to press the question.

    Remember when the FDA made a big stink about a certain brand of liver spread not having any approval? Or those usual warnings they issue against using unregistered skin care products? And their raids on clinics selling unregistered cosmetics? Will the FDA be possessed with the same zeal as they were in warning the entire populace about the dangers of eating unapproved liver spread when it comes to getting to the bottom of who brought these unregistered vaccines to the country? No? Anyone?

    I didn’t think so.