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'Masakit sa amin': Duterte decries corruption claims in COVID vaccine acquisition

 By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Presidential Communications

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday once again decried the corruption claims in government’s coronavirus vaccine acquisition.

In his weekly address, Duterte said the money used to vaccine purchase were all borrowed from the World Bank and Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).

“So there’s no corruption here — because not one of us here holds any of the billions [borrowed],” Duterte said, speaking partly in Filipino. 

“So that’s the situation. That’s why it’s painful for us that there are these sweeping allegations about corruption,” he added.

Duterte said not even the officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

The President also asked the Congress to avoid making allegations in vaccine procurement.

“That’s my request to members of Congress,” Duterte said. 

“In the meantime, someone said that none of you said that, [but] one of you said that. I just won’t say who… We’ll just go into a rigmarole,” Duterte added.

This was not the first time Duterte made an assurance of no corruption in the government’s vaccination program. On January 21, he defended Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. against accusations of overpricing the vaccine purchase.

In the same address, he urged the people to take their minds off corruption for a while. He also slammed the critics claiming that public vigilance supposedly prevented the corruption in acquiring vaccines.

The corruption allegations centered on allegedly changing prices in the COVID-19 vaccines from Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech. Senator Panfilo Lacson pointed out on social media that prices in the Philippines and in other countries varied greatly.

According to Lacson, the Sinovac vaccine costs around $5, or roughly P240, per dose in some instances, but in the Philippines, it goes for around $38, or roughly P1,800.

Galvez then came out to slam accusations, saying that these were unfounded reports. Senator Sonny Angara, however, said the point of comparison was from the report given by the Department of Health (DOH) last November.

Galvez refused to disclose the prices due to agreements signed by the government and vaccine producers, but he said the price would not go P700 per dose.

However, Lacson and netizens believe that Congressional inquiries and public awareness were able to ‘prevent’ the corruption.


RELATED ARTICLE: Philippine Daily Inquirer

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