The Daily Manila Shimbun


Palace wonders what law Senate to pass after COVI-19 vaccination hearings

January 19, 2021

Malacanang wondered on Tuesday what law the Senate will pass amid the ongoing investigation it has been conducting regarding the national immunization program against coronavirus disease.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque insisted that the national vaccination program is a job of the executive.

"The Palace cannot think of what law they will pass. If they (senators) are against the CDA (confidential disclosure agreement), they might come up with a law prohibiting the CDA, (and) if that happens, no one will sell drugs to the Philippines," he said in a televised press briefing.

Some senators have grilled government officials, such as National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer and Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr., regarding the vaccines that the government is planning to purchase.

Lawmakers questioned the real prices of the vaccines from various manufacturers after reports of alleged overpricing, especially those to be purchased from China's Sinovac company, which is fully backed up by the executive, including President Rodrigo Duterte.

"I and the public want to hear what law will come out as a result of this investigation because that is the reason why this investigation is called in aid of legislation. But for the President, the implementation of the National Vaccination Program is really the job of the executive," Roque said.

He said Duterte told the Cabinet officials to attend the Senate hearings but if they are being disrespected already, they could walkout.

"So, that's our only question to the senators, after these long hearings, what bills are they going to file?" Roque added.

Duterte, in a televised message on Monday night, said the government could not divulge yet the prices of the vaccines from various pharmaceutical companies since they are covered by the CDA.

But he assured that there is no corruption in the government's vaccination program.

Asked if Galvez would continue to participate in the Senate hearing, Galvez said he is willing to continue talking with the senators.

"But (my request) to them is not to violate what we call as the non-disclosure agreement and we can have what we call as the executive session to see what we can do," he said.

He added that in this time of pandemic, it is important to get the cooperation of both the Senate and the executive in order to achieve the whole of nation and whole of government approach. Celerina Monte/DMS