Duterte says Robredo trying to be ‘relevant’

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday night criticized Vice President Leni Robredo for supposedly trying to be “relevant” by egging him to get inoculated with the China-made Sinovac vaccines.

In a pre-recorded public address, Duterte said Robredo probably wanted him to get the Sinovac jab since she suspected that he had already received the Sinopharm vaccine along with his close-in security detail late last year.

The Presidential Security Group (PSG) earlier admitted to vaccinating some of its members in September and October 2020.

Duterte maintained that the Sinovac vaccines, although safe and effective, are not recommended for senior citizens due to their low efficacy.

“You seem to have an angel face but a devilish mind. ‘Yung pagduda mo kasi tapos na ako kaya (You’re suspecting that’s why) you want me to go into a trap of saying things which are not appropriate,” he said

He accused Robredo of issuing statements left and right for the sake of making headlines.

“Ikaw sige ka lang salita diyan wala ka namang ginagawa. Sige ka issue-issue ng statement (You keep talking but don’t do anything. You just keep on issuing statements). You know what? Because you want to be relevant here. Gusto mong sumali sa laro na para pakinggan ka rin (You want to join the game so people will listen to you),” he said.

Duterte also hit Robredo for calling for a further review of the Sinovac vaccines by the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC), an advisory board that acts as a recommendatory to the Department of Health (DOH) as stipulated under the Universal Health Care (UHC) Act or Republic Act 11223.

Sinovac vaccines have been approved for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

“Bakit ‘di mo na sinabi noon ‘yan? Tapos sabi mo dadaan proseso. Anong proseso ang gusto mo na tapos naman ‘yan lahat? Gusto mo dagdagan (Why didn’t you say that before? Then you say it should go through a process. What process do you want when it’s all done? You want to add)?” he said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the principal author of the UHC law, explained that the HTAC functions are not intended to duplicate the function of the FDA to establish safety or efficacy standards and quality measures for drugs and other products.

“The Health Technology Assessment should be institutionalized as a fair and transparent priority-setting mechanism that should be recommendatory to the DOH and PhilHealth. So hindi po totoo ang sinasabi niya na requirement po ng (So it’s not true what she’s saying that it’s a requirement of the) Universal Health Care na mandatory daw ang HTAC review,” he said.

Roque said Robredo may have been confused because a provision in the UHC law states that “each intervention must have undergone phase 4 clinical trial.”

However, he said that no vaccine brand has finished phase 4 clinical trials.

“Hindi po ito applicable sa panahon ngayon because nasa Emergency Use Authorization pa lang tayo. Wala pa pong phase 4 na clinical trial ang kahit na anong bakuna. So kung sasabihin po niyang mandatory ito, wala po tayong mabibili na bakuna (This is not applicable at the current time because we’re currently in EUA. No vaccine has finished with phase 4 clinical trials. So if she says it’s mandatory, we won’t be able to purchase any vaccines),” he said. PNA.GOV.PH