SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go asked Filipinos to trust the national government when it comes to the procurement and subsequent rollout of sufficient, safe, and effective vaccines against COVID-19 across the country in his manifestation during the Senate regular session.
“First of all, I wish to commend my colleagues for our collective effort to help the government and our people in overcoming the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. This is a testament that through our bayanihan efforts, we can recover as one,” Go began his manifestation.
He also renewed his earlier request to Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. to further explain to the Filipino public the national vaccine roadmap to overcome public reluctance and build vaccine confidence.
“I urge Vaccine Czar Secretary Galvez to explain the process further without compromising ongoing efforts to procure and administer as many vaccines as needed for our people. And out of transparency, maybe we can ask him if he can disclose the prices at the appropriate time to allay any doubts of the public, not only of Sinovac, but of all vaccines,” Go said during his speech.
Go stressed his trust and confidence in Galvez, saying that the vaccine czar “will always uphold the interest of the Filipino people when negotiating for our vaccines.”
“After all, these procurements by the national government are done through multi-lateral agreements with fund managers, such as the Asian Development Bank and World Bank,” he noted.
He also highlighted that President Rodrigo Duterte’s commitment to ensure that the national vaccination program – from approval to rollout and implementation – is safe, sure and secure has never changed.
“Magtiwala po tayo sa ating gobyerno. I am personally aware na bago pa man nagsimula sa social media ang mga kuro-kuro at haka-haka, masusi na po ang pagtrabaho ng mga opisyal ng ating pamahalaan to get the best for our country and for every Filipino,” he said.
“Para kay Pangulong Duterte, ang kalusugan at kaligtasan ng bawat Pilipino ay nasa sentro ng programa natin. Ito ang responsibilidad na ginagampanan natin palagi. Our officials will be measured by their adherence to the President’s guidance,” he added.
As to the disclosure of prices of vaccines, Go stressed that government officials handling the negotiations are required by law to abide by Non-Disclosure Agreements with all pharmaceutical companies developing these vaccines.
“Intindihin po natin na ginagawa ng gobyerno ang lahat para makakuha ng sapat na supply ng ligtas at epektibong mga bakuna. May sinusunod rin tayong mga patakaran at proseso sa negosasyon at kasama na diyan ang mga Non-Disclosure Agreements with pharmaceutical companies,” he added.
Meanwhile, Go reiterated his appeal to concerned authorities to expedite the process of acquiring vaccines and collaborate with the private sector and local government units for the proper implementation of the National COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap.
“Huwag na nating pahirapan pa dahil lahat naman tayo nagmamadali dito. ‘Yun po ang inaantay natin para unti-unti na tayo makabalik sa normal na pamumuhay. Let us work together to ensure that no Filipino is left behind in the road towards recovery,” Go told concerned authorities.
“Siguraduhin dapat na bawat piso ng pondo ng bayan ay hindi nasasayang, lalo na sa panahon ng krisis. Siguraduhin din nating makakabenepisyo ito sa lahat, kung kaya’t patuloy ang aking paalala na unahin dapat ang mga mahihirap, mga bahagi ng vulnerable sectors, at mga frontliners, lalo na sa mga malalayong lugar na hindi nga po alam kung ano itong vaccine at saan ito kukunin,” he added.
In view of some questions regarding the actual final prices of vaccines against COVID-19, Go also urged the agencies involved to be transparent and prudent in using the country’s limited resources.
As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health, the senator reminded the national government that they are still mandated to ensure proper and full accounting of public funds used and these should be disclosed to the public at the proper time without compromising the ongoing negotiations.
As to those spreading misinformation and taking advantage of the vulnerabilities of Filipinos during these challenging times, Go appealed to them to “join the ‘bayanihan’ efforts instead.” He also renewed his call for a measure that will punish those who continue to take advantage of the current situation.
“Tulad ng sabi ko noong Biyernes, kung walang katapusan ang pagdududa, as legislators, why don’t we legislate a law, not only to prepare for adverse events, but also against those who are taking advantage of the situation — para guarded lahat at may penalties po. Ikulong o isama natin sa death penalty — ‘yung mga nangsasamantala dyan at nagkakalat ng maling impormasyon, dapat po kayo ang unang turukan — by lethal injection!” Go warned.
Ending his manifestation, Go emphasized that it is important to commence the vaccine rollout as soon as possible so Filipinos’ lives can finally return to normal.
“Ang importante po, sana ay maumpisahan na po ang roll out at maturukan na po ang mga Pilipino ng safe na vaccine. Mas lalong matatagalan ito dahil merong pagdududa. Kawawa naman po ang ating frontliners. Kawawa naman po ang mga mahihirap nating kababayan, sila po ang apektado dito kung lalong matatagalan pa,” Go pointed out.
“Magtulungan na lang po tayo. Magbayanihan na lang tayo, mga kapatid kong Pilipino. Magtulungan na lang po tayo,” he ended.