By Deighton Acuin and Archie Villaflores

Screenshot from PCOO/RTVM

It got a little awkward and personal moment on live television anew as Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque asked an executive from Sinovac Biotech regarding her marital status.

Roque managed to sneak in a question on whether Sinovac General Manager Helen Yang is single or married during his Malacañang press briefing on Wednesday, February 24.

Roque invited Yang virtually to shed light on the vaccine’s efficacy and safety as well as the pharmaceutical firm’s delivery commitments. The company earlier secured an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The Palace briefing, which aired live on state-owned PTV-4 and government’s media pages, was running almost an hour when Roque asked about Yang’s affiliation and her marital status.

Roque raised the question as a member of the Palace staff apparently smitten with the Sinovac official.

Roque first asked Yang: “What is your official designation, Ms. Yang?”

She replied: “I’m the General Manager of Sinovac Hong Kong.”

Roque then inquired: “And is it a Miss or Mrs.? Because my Director Ting is asking.”

The question made Yang laugh during the briefing, then gave a quick-witted response that apparently took her by surprise.

“I can share it privately,” Yang said with a smile, apparently refusing to talk about her marital status on air.

Roque laughed and commented that his staff member would eagerly wait for her response. “Okay. Director Ting, you have the permission to contact her privately. Okay ma’am, thank you very much.”

Before the funny exchange, the Palace official asked Yang about the pronunciation of “Sinovac.”

“How do you pronounce it, is it Si-no-vac or Sai-no-vac? Also for my purpose,” the Palace official said.

Yang replied: “Sure. It’s Sai-no-vac.”

Roque ended the briefing by relating President Rodrigo Duterte’s gratitude to the Chinese government as well as the Sinovac for vaccine supply. The first batch containing 600,000 vaccine doses, according to Yang, was expected to arrive in the coming days.

“Since there are no more questions, Ma’am, thank you very much, Ms. Helen Yang of Sinovac Biotech—the General Manager Ms. Helen Yang and of course Director Ting will be awaiting your information,” Roque said. 

“On behalf of the President, Ms. Helen Yang, I’d like to express the gratitude of the President not only to Sinovac but to the government of the People’s Republic of China for once more coming to our assistance in our time of dire need. Thank you very much and the Filipino people are a people that will never forget assistance given when we needed it the most,” he added.

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