President Rodrigo Duterte wondered why senators had a “war-like” demeanor when they quizzed government officials in charge of the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout, Malacañang said Wednesday.
Some senators have criticized the refusal of vaccine rollout officials to disclose the negotiated prices of the vaccines and government’s supposed preference for the vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac despite claims it was less effective and more expensive.
Senator Panfilo Lacson also said there could be corruption in the government’s dealings with Sinovac due to the "sharp differences" in the prices of the vaccine in the Philippines and in other countries.
But vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said there is no corruption and the prices will be revealed to the public at the proper time.
“He could not understand why the demeanor of the senators were apparently bellicose-like, they were war-like. And of course, there was like already an attitude as if there was corruption going on, when it was fact finding,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in a CNN Philippines interview.
“So, the President thought, you know, despite the separation of powers and despite the power of oversight, it does not give the senators the license to be abusive.”
The Senate will resume its inquiry on Friday with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and Galvez expected to attend, said Roque.
“In fairness to the President, his answer was ‘no, go to the Senate, continue answering questions, continue the way in the manner that you have been answering and if they become abusive to you verbally, just stand up and leave. And if they cite you in contempt, I will come and fetch you,’” Roque said.
Roque earlier warned lawmakers against passing legislation that would prohibit the government from entering into a confidentiality disclosure agreement (CDA) with pharmaceutical companies, saying this might push the firms not to sell their products to the Philippines. -MDM, GMA News