HOW safe and how effective for how long should be the crucial questions answered in the choice for COVID vaccine in the Philippines, said Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan Tuesday, a day after the Senate agreed to his proposal to convene as one body and discuss the national government’s vaccination plan.
“Gaano kaligtas at gaano kaepektibo hanggang kelan? Yan ang mga gusto nating malaman tungkol sa pagpili ng bakuna laban sa COVID-19,” Pangilinan said.
The senator also pointed out that it is important to ensure that no corruption taint the procurement process so that the public will welcome the program.
“Mahalaga rin na magtiwala ang mga babakunahan, ang taumbayan, sa proseso ng pagbili nitong mga bakuna,” Pangilinan said.
As he pointed out in his privilege speech on Monday, during the pandemic, the Senate was able to steer the direction of the national response against COVID toward a more judicious use of taxpayers’ money.
“Importante rin na mas masinop ang paggastos natin sa pera ng bayan. Nakakalungkot na sa kabila ng pandemya, at milyon-milyon na ang nagugutom dahil nawalan ng trabaho, meron pa ring nakakaisip mangurakot,” Pangilinan said, citing the P15-billion PhilHealth scam, as well as the overpriced test kits.
On Monday, Pangilinan filed Senate Resolution 594 asking for a hearing of the Senate organized as a Committee of the Whole to discuss the funding, the country-to-country negotiations, logistical support, private sector mobilization, and digital infrastructure on top of the public health concerns that anti-COVID vaccination entails.
When asked about those who might be invited to the hearing, which the Senate already granted but for the schedule, Pangilinan said that aside from government implementers of the program such as Secretary Charlie Galvez, representatives of the following may also be invited to the Senate hearing:
- World Health Organization
- medical doctors in urban and rural areas
- barangay health workers and midwife groups (who are the on-ground implementers of government health programs)
- private sector, especially those that bought vaccines for their workers from AstraZenica