Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has appealed to President Rodrigo Duterte and Senate President Vicente Sotto III for greater unity in order to ensure transparent and immediate implementation of the national vaccination program against COVID-19.
“Alang-alang po sa kapakanan ng ating bayan at ng mga mahihirap nating kababayang Pilipino, I am appealing to President Duterte and to Senate President Sotto na magkaisa na lang po tayo para makapag-umpisa na po ng pagbabakuna,” Go said.
“Sinagot lang po ng Pangulo kung ano po ang nabasa niya sa isang column. Hindi ko naman kontrolado ang nasa isipan ng ating Pangulo,” Go also explained.
Moreover, Go announced that President Duterte has already directed Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. to provide details of the vaccine agreements with the Senate President in order to remove doubts and show transparency in the process being undertaken.
“Kausap ko po si Pangulo, at inatasan niya si Secretary Galvez na ipaalam po ang kasunduan kay Senate President Sotto, at nagkausap na rin po kami ni Senate President ukol dito, para magkaroon po ng transparency,” he said.
Meanwhile, during an ambush interview earlier in the day right after he led the distribution of assistance to public market and talipapa vendors in Plaridel, Bulacan, Go said that he has also requested Secretary Galvez to explain further to the public the processes being undertaken by the government with regard to acquiring vaccines in order to erase doubts and allay fears.
“Para wala nang duda. The more na hindi tayo magkasundo dito, the more maantala, the more matatagalan,” Go shared with the media.
“Kawawa ‘yung Pilipino. Hindi tayo magkasundo dito sa taas, ‘yung nasa baba ‘yung nagiging apektado at kawawa. Nag-suggest nga ako kung pwede niyo ba ihayag,” he added.
Go, however, said that he understands Galvez’s apprehension to share too much information regarding the purchase of the vaccines as it could risk breaching the confidentiality agreements set by vaccine manufacturers, citing Malaysia as an example.
“Kasi takot si Secreatry Galvez, sinabi niya ay baka ma-violate niya katulad ng nangyari sa Malaysia. Nakapag-violate sila ng non-disclosure agreement, eh, na-terminate ‘yung kontrata. Lalong natakot, ayaw ng makipag-usap ng supplier,” Go said, adding that Galvez is just being careful for the sake of securing the necessary vaccines for the country.
“So, talagang nahirapan din po si Secretary. Trust na po ito sa gobyerno. Trust na po kay Pangulo ‘pag sinabi niya,” he said.
Go also assured the public that, as a legislator, he will call for transparency on vaccine pricing and procurement to cast off doubts and apprehensions. But he emphasized that the process must not delay the country from securing enough supply of safe and effective vaccines.
“Ako naman po, bilang isang legislator, bilang miyembro ng Senado, I want transparency, transparency para walang duda,” Go said.
“But, at the same time, hindi po ako papayag maantala ngayon. Roll-out, eh, nahuhuli na tayo…‘Yung iba nag-ro-roll-out na. Tayo, wala pa ngang supply,” he added.
As for the safety and efficacy issues surrounding the vaccines, Go said such matters should be left with medical and health experts to decide.
“It is up to our medical health experts. Si President po ay nagre-rely din po sa ating medical health experts kung safe ba ito, kung pwede ba iturok o ‘di pwede. Kapag sabihin ng FDA (Food and Drug Administration) na safe. Pero ‘pag sinabi ng FDA na hindi, ‘di po tayo papayag,” Go said.
“Ako naman, importante sa akin ang safety at efficacy ng vaccine na bibilhin natin para makuha natin ang kumpiyansa ng mga Pilipino,” he added.
To further allay fears regarding the COVID-19 vaccination, Go said that his offer to Secretary Galvez and Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to be inoculated first with the vaccine still stands. He added that Duterte is also willing to be vaccinated first.
“Nagsalita na po ang Pangulo na willing naman po siyang mauna. Importante po dito, to gain the confidence of the Filipino people. Kaya sabi ko dito kay Secretary Duque at Secretary Galvez, ‘pag nandiyan na ang vaccine, paturok kaagad kayo. Ipakita n’yo na mapagkakatiwalaan ang vaccine na binili n’yo,” said Go.
He also challenged Vice President Leni Robredo to help build the confidence of the public and offer to be vaccinated first.
“Ako naman po pagkatapos ni Pangulong Duterte, o sabay, ikaw naman Vice President Leni Robredo ang magpaturok din. Ipakita mo rin sabay-sabay tayo,” Go told Robredo.
“Hinahamon ko kayo para makuha natin ang kumpiyansa ng bawat Pilipino. Ipakita natin, sabay-sabay tayong magpaturok,” he ended.