“WHEN THE Senate hearings raised more questions than answers about Sinovac, our officials were both tongue-tied and stuttering, leaving us with a string of flip-flopping pronouncements.”
So, Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson noted in his privilege speech on the controversial issue of Covid-19 vaccines on Monday.
“If they had been more forthright and honest in their responses in our first hearing, hindi mafo-focus sa Sinovac,” Lacson continued in an ANC interview Tuesday.
The senator shot down insinuations of personal or political motivations on the part of some senators in the hearings: “What we are doing in the Senate is an exercise of our oversight function over the appropriations laws that we passed, particularly on the purchase of the vaccines.”
And forthrightly: “There is no personal or political agenda involved in our inquiry as insinuated by Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier. Most of us who participated in the public hearings of the Committee of the Whole merely want to get straightforward and honest responses from the concerned authorities so we will be informed for our future reference in our legislative work.”
Ruefully: “Instead, the resource persons were groping, inconsistent, flip-flopping and even evasive in their responses – hence our misgivings and apprehensiveness.”
Lacson noted that it was only recently that Galvez declared an “indicative price” of P700 for the Sinovac vaccines: “If at the outset, during our first hearing last Jan. 11, he already declared we can get Sinovac vaccines for P700 thereabouts, then that’s the end of the story.”
Emphatically: “So, the controversy is their own doing. It’s not the Senate, it’s not the senators. We’re performing our job, oversight. We did it in the Bureau of Customs, PhilHealth, and Bureau of Corrections. May nangyayari naman pag nag-iimbestiga kami in aid of legislation.”
“As I was observing our resource persons (including Galvez and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III), I didn’t notice any glow in their eyes or at least an expression of pleasant surprise in their faces, which should have been the case for a normal person after hearing such a wonderful piece of information: 44 million doses (for free from COVAX)! My God, Philippines, my beloved Philippines – at P1,200 per dose as the estimated average cost made by the Department of Finance for purposes of transacting loan agreements with the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank, this would translate into P52.8 billion worth of free vaccines!”
Doing basic arithmetic, Lacson goes: “We would not be needing P70 billion to purchase vaccines because of the free doses. Our computations show the national government should need to vaccinate 36 million Filipinos. At P1,200 per vaccine on the average, it would need just P39 billion to P40 billion instead of P70 billion!”
Pinged, Duque and Galvez stuttered. The Covid vax issue unraveled.