It looks like the Philippines is seemingly not a priority or playing “second fiddle” in the purchase of vaccines for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) because the country has “no clout” and is “not rich,” President Rodrigo Duterte said on late Monday night.
Duterte made this remark after Health Secretary Francisco Duque 3rd came under fire for allegedly having “dropped the ball” in negotiations with Pfizer on the delivery of the vaccines for the Philippines.
“May I just explain to the public the reason why we – we seemed to be a second fiddle in these negotiations for the acquisition of vaccine. Second fiddle nga tayo (We’re second fiddle), it’s because ‘yung mga mayaman na doon pa ginagawa sa kanila ang vaccine, kagaya ng Pfizer, uunahin talaga ang Amerika (rich countries where vaccines are made, like those made by Pfizer, they will prioritize America),” he said in a taped speech.
He said there was “no available” vaccines from Pfizer for the Philippines, adding that “it remains to be seen” when the US pharmaceutical company could supply the country with its vaccines.
“Tayo (us), well, wala man tayo masyadong ano, ‘yung pera lang natin pangbili lang talaga (we don’t have that much money except enough to buy the vaccines) but we do not have the clout because we are not a rich nation,” he added.
He also reiterated that vaccine czar Carlito Galvez will be the only person-in-charge of handling the purchase of vaccines.
Meanwhile, Duterte said he was assured by Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez that there are enough funds to pay for the vaccines. SOVEREIGNPH