"Unity is needed today more than ever."
Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. and his team may now focus on the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, even as the Senate concludes today its inquiry on the alleged overpricing of the Sinovac vaccine being pursued by the government.
Senator Bong Go has called for unity, particularly the Malacańang and the Senate, in the government’s efforts to secure vaccines for Filipinos amid the continuing COVID-19 pandemic and the emergence of mutated coronavirus infections.
We certainly agree with Senator Go’s view that if the vaccination procurement is delayed, and the longer the mass immunization takes to proceed, more ordinary Filipinos would suffer from COVID-19.
Following Sen. Go’s call, Galvez met with Senate President Tito Sotto, Sen. Ping Lacson, Sen. Ronald Dela Rosa, clearing the issue of non-disclosure of vaccine prices during negotiations and allayed fears of corruption in the government’s vaccine procurement efforts.
Galvez showed the three senators the pertinent documents confirming the non-disclosure agreement as mandated by pharmaceutical firms, understandably a common business practice like bidding.
He said the government’s efforts had been stymied for two weeks by the controversy over questionably stiff vaccine prices of Chinese pharmaceutical Sinovac Biotech and the low efficacy of the vaccine itself.
We stand to lose 148 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines various manufacturers already committed selling to the Philippines if negotiations are delayed further.
Amid the allegation of an attempt to overprice the Sinovac vaccine, President Duterte vouched for the integrity of Galvez, the former Armed Forces chief turned vaccine czar and chief implementer of the national policy on COVID-19.
I’m glad that Galvez has assured us that there will be no room for overpricing by any person, entity or group as all payments will go directly to the pharma companies from the lending institution who will also set in place proper safeguards.
I believe the Senate merely exercised its mandate for oversight function over the appropriations laws that it passed, under the principle of checks and balances.
It is the duty of the Congress to ensure that the P72.5 billion earmarked for vaccine procurement is used on the most effective and suitable vaccines for Filipinos at the right price.
It was all about communication and unity in the spirit of public service that settled the rift between the Galvez and the Senate.
I’m glad that Senator Go, who has stayed by Duterte’s side, now serves as a legislative liaison between Malacańang and the Senate.
Senator Go was right in saying that the longer it takes for us to get the vaccines, more and more Filipinos get sick, numbering by the thousands daily as the country breached the 500,000 mark of total COVID-19 cases reported.
We need to start inoculating our people as soon as possible.
Unity among us is most needed, now than any other time.