President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night replied to Vice President Leni Robredo's observation that he seems thin-skinned, stating that he is not "pikon" but instead angry at her for supposedly increasing public doubt about the Sinovac vaccine.
"Imbes na magtulong to convince the people, here she comes and making it appear that government has failed in its mandate of securing...Ma'am, hindi ako napikon. Hindi ako mapikon kay hindi ko sarili ito," Duterte said during his weekly Talk To The People briefing on COVID-19 developments.
Instead, he said, he was angry with Robredo for coming out with a "half-truth" that the Sinovac vaccine needed a recommendation from the health technology assessment council (HTAC), as Robredo and health associations had said.
At the briefing, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the vaccine did not require a nod from HTAC as it was a donation and not an investment.
"Hindi ho kailangan ng recommendation, kasi nakalagay dito [sa Universal Health Care Law] investment, wala naman tayong ininvest, donated 'yun eh. So EUA [emergency use authorization] lang po ang kinailangan," said Duque.
Section 34 of the Universal Health Care Act states that "investments on any health technology or development of any benefit package by the DOH and PhilHealth shall be based on the positive recommendations of the HTA."
China donated 600,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine Coronavac, with the shipment arriving on February 28. It was the first legal batch of vaccines in the Philippines, and vaccinations began in major hospitals in the capital region on March 1.
"Imbes na makatulong ang Vice President, she created confusion, thereby creating doubts and uncertainty in the minds of the people," Duterte continued. "'Yan ang ginalitan ko because we are running against time."
Robredo has urged Filipinos to get vaccinated against COVID-19, and said that it is important for the public to see Duterte get the vaccine, to increase public confidence in it. — BM, GMA News