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DOH’s Duque denies “dropping the ball” on the Pfizer deal

DOH’s Duque denies “dropping the ball” on the Pfizer deal

Duque Vaccine inquirer header nolisoliph

On Dec. 15, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin tweeted how someone committed a huge blunder in securing 10 million doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Apparently, a certain person “dropped the ball” on the Asian Development Bank-(ADB) and World Bank-financed deal.

On Dec. 16, Sen.  Panfilo “Ping” Lacson revealed who this was. Screenshots of a Viber message between him and Inquirer reporter DJ Yap showed that the person who failed to secure the vaccines was Department of Health (DOH) chief Francisco Duque III. 

Duque’s denial

Duque is standing firm against allegations of “dropping the ball.”

“First of all, there is no such thing as dropping the ball. If you look at the statement, the negotiations are ongoing and the DOH (Department of Health) went to the process of iteration,” said Duque in a media forum

“I just want to make sure na di loose or disadvantageous to the government ’yung mga provisions,” he added. 

One document away

According to Lacson, Duque failed to submit a single document  that would have given us  access to Pfizer’s vaccine. Talks between US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Locsin have been ongoing since July, but the deal fell through due to Duque’s “indifference.”

“Thus, (the government) could have secured the delivery of 10 million Pfizer vaccines as early as January next year, way ahead of Singapore, but for the indifference of Secretary Duque who failed to work on the necessary documentary requirement, namely, the confidentiality disclosure agreement (CDA) as he should have done,” said Lacson.

Follow-ups by Pfizer didn’t seem to speed things along, either.

According to messages shared by Lacson, Pfizer’s country representative followed up on the document but never received it. 

Is this gross negligence on Duque’s part? Lacson offered a diplomatic response. 

“I would say, only he knows the real reason for failing to accomplish such a simple documentary requirement,” he said. 

We have many words, but none appropriate for publishing. 

One question though: Wasn’t it Duque who gave health workers a one-day deadline for them to accomplish forms that would qualify them for hazard pay? The deadline was extended by a few days amid a general uproar on the very narrow window he gave these COVID-19 frontliners to claim what is rightfully theirs. 

Congratulations, sir! You’ve done it again.



Header image courtesy of Grig Montegrande for Inquirer

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