FINGERS CROSSED: Duque hurt over claims on Pfizer mess, urges public to 'just move on'

By Matthew James B. Santos

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (PHOTO: Panay News)

Department of Health (DOH) Francisco Duque III on Wednesday has expressed pain over the public "bickering" towards him for scuttling the COVID-19 vaccine deal with pharmaceutical firm Pfizer, urging the people to "just move on" from the issue to address other problems.

In an online media forum with the Kapihan sa Manila Bay, Duque has defied claiming the issue after government officials blamed him for the Philippines' missed opportunity to secure 10 million doses of Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021, admitting he was hurt by the claims

“Masakit lang sa akin kasi nga eh sana hindi ganoon. Sana napag-usapan, nagbigay ng sulat, formal, may documentation lahat, because to me that’s how professional governance works,” he said.

The Health secretary cited that what they did "was correct" for signing the Confidential Disclosure Agreement (CDA) which he failed to submit, immediately drawing criticisms from the public.

Recently, Senator Panfilo Lacson claimed that Duque "dropped the ball" for ensuring the deal with Pfizer, supporting the tweet of Foreign Affairs Secretary Locsin that revealed he and Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel Romualdez already arranged the delivery of the vaccines with the help of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

Duque then responded to the accusations, explaining what DOH has made to accomplish the task.

“I have already said this over and over again. There was no dropping the ball. Ang ginawa natin dito due diligence. We cannot be reckless. We cannot be signing documents without legal clearance,” he denied.

Duque pointed out the "complex" processes and requirements needed in completing the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines for the Philippines, which he said other people don't understand.

"The problem is if people talk and yet they do not have the competence to comprehend the complexities of the vaccine selection, scientific evaluation, procurement, distribution, production, storage, logistical requirements, the actual immunization program. These are all the imperatives of our vaccine roadmap and we must understand the process,” he stressed.

He noted that as a professional, "we move forward, we explain to the people, we leave it at that," saying that he will move on from the issue.

“We have too much on our plate. We cannot spend our time bickering and trying to say something to counter somebody’s statement. So we just move on kasi ang bigat bigat ng ating hamon,” Duque added.



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