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House leader urges Palace: Censure Roque for remark on vaccine choice


House Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano on Thursday urged Malacañang to reprimand presidential spokesperson Harry Roque for his "insensitive and arrogant" remarks on the public's choice for COVID-19 vaccine.

In a statement, Paduano criticized Roque for saying that Filipinos cannot be picky about the brand of vaccine that will be given to them as part of the government's COVID vaccination program.

Paduano pointed out that amid the pandemic, what is expected from government officials is compassion.

"The remarks of Roque reeks of insensitivity and arrogance. Sa panahong ito, ang pagiging arogante ng pananalita ni Sec. Roque ay hindi makatutulong bagkus magpapalala lamang ng sakit sa damdamin ng ating mamamayan," he said.

"Gaano ba kahirap magpakita ng simpatya sa panahong ito? The least we can expect from him is to show remorse, and yet, none is coming," he added.

Also, Paduano said that while he recognizes the effort of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases and of vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. in procuring the COVID-19 vaccines, "we cannot turn deaf ears to cocky remarks."

"Resorting to ad hominem utterances directed at our constituents clamoring for better public service may be considered a violation of our oath of office," Paduano pointed out.

He stressed that Under Section 4, paragraph C of the Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees, "public officials and employees must act with justness and sincerity and shall not discriminate against anyone, especially the poor and the underprivileged."

"At the end of the day, it is the Food and Drug Administration that will determine the right vaccines that should be made available to Filipinos, not Roque," he said.

Aside from Paduano, senators also slammed Roque for his remarks, with Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon saying the spokesperson's statement could trigger aversion to the vaccination program.

Government authorities aim to inoculate 50 to 70 million individuals within the year, and an estimated 50,000 is expected to be vaccinated in February.

Galvez said the vaccine manufactured by American corporation Pfizer could be the first to be used against COVID-19 in the country as the COVAX Facility will have an early rollout of the said brand. —LBG, GMA News

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