The Palace stood by President Rodrigo Duterte’s tirade against Vice President Leni Robredo—one that includes a death wish to Robredo—over her insistence that the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine should be endorsed by the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) first.
Roque made the response when asked what the President meant when he addressed Robredo during his weekly late-night briefing on Monday, saying, “Iyan ang mahirap sa iyo eh, you want to be relevant. And you….you know, sometimes you make an idiotic stance. Iyong mga ganoong 'they deserve the best.' Anak ka ng…Bakit ako? I would give them the worst? Mamatay ka na. Hindi ko iwanan ‘yong mga frontliners and you do not need to really be redundant about it.”
Roque backed the President during the Palace briefing.
“Well, what he said remains. But the context, because, ang sinasabi kasi ng Vice President, kailangan aprubahan muna ng HTAC bago ibigay sa mga doktor [ang Sinovac],” he said.
“The President said, I read the [Universal Health Care] law itself, recommendatory po iyang HTAC, hindi po yan intended to second-guess the FDA,” Roque added, referring to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Robredo earlier said that the Sinovac vaccine should secure a recommendation from HTAC first before administering it to health workers, considering that Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca—which were granted emergency use authorization by the FDA like Sinovac—secured a recommendation from the HTAC.
“Kasi iyong Pfizer nga saka AstaZeneca, mayroon. Ano ba naman iyong hintayin natin, hintayin natin iyong HTAC na maglabas ng positive recommendation? Kasi kung walang positive recommendation, huwag muna, kasi ‘di ba, mahirap iyon,” Robredo said.
"Kasi, donated man iyan o bibilhin natin, kailangan natin proteksyunan iyong ating mga kababayan. So ano ba naman iyong magkaroon ng positive recommendation [ang HTAC]," Robredo added.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Tuesday that Sinovac is already under HTAC review.
The Philippine FDA only recommended Sinovac for those clinically healthy individuals aged 18 to 59 years old. Moreover, the FDA did not recommend Sinovac on health workers since its efficacy rate on this group only reached 50.4%.
Only the 600,000 doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine donated by the Chinese government, however, are the ones available for use in the Philippines since these were the only ones which already arrived in the Philippines.
GMA News Online has reached out to the Office of the Vice President for comment. — BM, GMA News