President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night said he could have been inoculated with the COVID-19 vaccine, but Vice President Leni Robredo’s wrong message pushed him to pull out from the vaccination program last week.
Duterte issued the statement after Robredo said coronavirus vaccines from China’s Sinovac Biotech have failed to secure a positive recommendation from the Health Technology Assessment Council.
The HTAC is an advisory board that acts as a recommendatory group to the Department of Health (DOH) as stipulated under Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Health Care (UHC) law.
Robredo’s camp on Tuesday took a dig at the President for blaming her for the low confidence of the public in China’s Sinovac jab for the coronavirus.
“This administration spends more time attacking Leni Robredo than responding to the real, urgent problems of our people and nation,” Robredo’s lawyer-spokesperson Barry Gutierrez said in a statement.
Robredo had called for a review of Sinovac's CoronaVac product by the HTAC. Key allies of the President and several doctors and nurses were among hundreds to get jabs after the China-made vaccine arrived in the country last March 1.
“So, what she has said—we should follow the process. She is the Vice President, I should get the vaccine, but she mentioned that there was no process that was followed,” Duterte said.
The President said Robredo did not even bother understanding the provision under the Universal Health Care Act or Republic Act also known as Republic Act No. 11223 which states that the HTAC is just recommendatory.
The donated Sinovac shots, he said, are not yet required to undergo an HTAC review because these were donated and not procured by the government.
“We were fighting against the tide of non-believers not to be afraid.
Now, here comes the statement -she made without completely reading the law, with just a simple statement, you’re creating doubt,” he said.
He blamed Robredo’s call for an HTAC review as the reason why more individuals rejected the Sinovac-made CoronaVac vaccines.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque said the HTAC is evaluating the Sinovac-made CoronaVac vaccines since the government is expected to procure 1 million doses this month under a P700 million purchase deal.
Robredo earlier said Sinovac, just like Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca should secure positive recommendation from the HTAC before the inoculation of health-care workers.
“Kulelat tayo sa pagkuha ng bakuna? Awayin si Leni Robredo. Mabagal ang pagtugon sa bagyo at baha? Siraan si Leni Robredo,” Gutierrez said.
“Milyon milyon ang nawalan ng trabaho? Insultuhin si Leni Robredo. Tapos sila daw ang 'hindi namumulitika?'” he asked.