By Deighton Acuin


Malacañang on Tuesday stood firm on fresh tirades made by President Rodrigo Duterte against Vice President Leni Robredo — including his death wish — over her calls that donated COVID-19 vaccines developed by China-based Sinovac Biotech should be endorsed first by Heath Technology Assessment Council (HTAC).

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the response when asked what Duterte meant when he addressed during his weekly briefing.

“Iyan ang mahirap sa iyo eh, you want to be relevant. And you….you know, 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,” Duterte earlier said.

With this remark, Roque backed the Chief Executive.

“Well, what he said remains. But the context, because, ang sinasabi kasi ng Vice President, kailangan aprubahan muna ng HTAC bago ibigay sa mga doktor [ang Sinovac],” Roque said during his televised briefing

“The President said, I read the [Universal Health Care] law itself, recommendatory po iyang HTAC, hindi po yan intended to second-guess the FDA,” Roque added, referring to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

In her Sunday radio broadcast, Robredo said the Sinovac should secure first a recommendation from HTAC before using it to healthcare workers, citing vaccines from Pfizer-Biotech and AstraZeneca which have secured a recommendation from the HTAC.

“Kasi iyong Pfizer nga saka AstaZeneca, mayroon. Ano ba naman iyong hintayin natin, hintayin natin iyong HTAC na maglabas ng positive recommendation? Kasi kung walang positive recommendation, huwag muna, kasi ‘di ba, mahirap iyon,” Robredo said.

"Kasi, donated man iyan o bibilhin natin, kailangan natin proteksyunan iyong ating mga kababayan. So ano ba naman iyong magkaroon ng positive recommendation [ang HTAC]," Robredo added.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Tuesdy Sinovac is already under HTAC review.

The Philippine FDA only recommended Sinovac for those clinically healthy individuals aged 18 to 59 years old. Moreover, the FDA did not recommend Sinovac on health workers since its efficacy rate on this group only reached 50.4%.

Only the 600,000 doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine donated by the Chinese government, however, are the ones available for use in the Philippines since these were the only ones which already arrived in the Philippines.

Media agencies have reached out Robredo’s office for response.