By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Presidential Communications

President Rodrigo Duterte slammed Vice President Leni Robredo anew for criticizing the national vaccination drive, which has started by using coronavirus vaccine doses developed by Sinovac Biotech, a Chinese-based pharmaceutical company, without positive recommendations from the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC).

Duterte’s fresh tirade came after Robredo called for more efficacious and safe vaccine for healthcare workers, echoing appeals made by medical groups.

Rather than dwelling on the merits of her calls, Duterte told Robredo to die.

“Iyan ang mahirap sa iyo eh, you want to be relevant,” said Duterte in his public address. “Sometimes, you make an idiotic stance. Iyong mga ganoong ‘They deserve the best.’ Anak ka ng. Bakit ako? I would give them the worst? Mamatay ka na. Hindi ko iwanan ‘yong mga frontliners and you do not need to really be redundant about it.”

In her Sunday radio broadcast, Robredo urged government to ensure Sinovac vaccine goes to stringent processes before its rollout.

Mass inoculation, however, began yesterday in several hospitals even when the HTAC has yet to release a positive recommendation on the donated dose from China.

HTAC provides a separate analysis of the vaccines given emergency use permit by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) using peer-reviewed articles in medical journals. Both Pfizer-BioNTech and AstraZeneca already got positive recommendations from the HTAC.

Robredo said asking for HTAC’s recommendation would help decrease public hesitance on Sinovac’s vaccines, especially at the time when government agencies issued conflicting feedbacks.

However, Duterte easily dismissed her idea, choosing to slam Robredo instead. The President reiterated his previous position the country cannot afford to wait for other brands because of limited global supply.

“Kung gusto mo talaga para mahinto ka, kunin mo ‘yong basket mo, mamalengke ka doon sa labas ng bakuna. Bigyan kita pera para kung may mabili ka, bilhin mo na kaagad at umuwi ka dito sa Pilipinas, ibigay mo doon sa mga doktor,” said Duterte.

Duterte’s tirades against Robredo in his public addresses are not new as he usually resorts to hurling insults and sexist remarks against his most formidable critic.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, one of Robredo’s allies in the Liberal Party, defended her from Duterte’s latest rants, urging the administration to focus its “eye on the ball.”

“COVID ang problema, hindi si VP Leni,” posted Pangilinan on Twitter. “Siya nga ang walang pagod sa kakatulong at paghanap ng solusyon sa pesteng COVID. Tularan na lang kaya si VP,” Pangilinan tweeted