Was ‘kickvacc’ why Pfizer Covid vaccine ball dropped?: Pangilinan

December 17, 2020

SENATOR Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Thursday said he hopes there was no “kickvacc” in the supposed failure of the Philippine government to secure the delivery of 10 million Pfizer Covid vaccines as early as January next year.

“Huwag naman sana na may issue ng ‘kickvacc’ sa dropping of the ball ng Pfizer vaccine procurement,” he said when asked about the disclosure that some government officials failed to work on documents required by the US pharmaceutical giant.

Asked further by members of the media about the possible liability of those involved, Pangilinan said: “If it can be established that there was inexcusable failure to act that has led to injury either to the government or any party then Section 3e of the Anti-Graft Law will apply.”

“On the other hand, if it can be proved that the refusal to act within a reasonable time was intended to favor another party then Section 3f of the Anti-Graft Law applies,” he added.

Corrupt practices, according to Section 3 of Republic Act 3019, include:

“(e) Causing any undue injury to any party, including the Government, or giving any private party any unwarranted benefits, advantage or preference in the discharge of his official administrative or judicial functions through manifest partiality, evident bad faith or gross inexcusable negligence. This provision shall apply to officers and employees of offices or government corporations charged with the grant of licenses or permits or other concessions.

(f) Neglecting or refusing, after due demand or request, without sufficient justification, to act within a reasonable time on any matter pending before him for the purpose of obtaining, directly or indirectly, from any person interested in the matter some pecuniary or material benefit or advantage, or for the purpose of favoring his own interest or giving undue advantage in favor of or discriminating against any other interested party.”

On Monday, December 14, Pangilinan filed Senate Resolution 594 calling for the constitution of the Senate Committee of the Whole to conduct an inquiry in aid of legislation on the national Covid-19 vaccination program. The hearing may be scheduled early January, to be decided by Senate President Vicente Sotto III.

“Milyon-milyong buhay at hanapbuhay ng Pilipino, at trilyon-trilyong piso ng economic activity ang nakataya rito. Hindi pwedeng mabigo ang vaccine rollout nang dahil sa kurakot o kapalpakan (Tens of millions of lives and livelihoods, and trillions of pesos worth of economic activity are at stake. Failure due to corruption or incompetence in the vaccine rollout is not an option),” Pangilinan said.

“This is precisely why convening the Committee of the Whole is a critical next step. These allegations of negligence or incompetence in the procurement of vaccines must not be left unchecked if we are to prevent a failure in the massive vaccine rollout,” he said.

The senator reiterated the importance of the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing in getting the needed information for a safe, effective, and corruption-free anti-Covid game plan.  

“Ang tagal na ng lockdown natin. Halos kalahating milyon na ang kaso ng Covid. Mahigit walong libo na ang namamatay sa mga kababayan natin. Milyon-milyong negosyo at trabaho na ang nawala. Kailangan na natin ng game plan para masugpo ito,” Pangilinan said.

As of December 16, the Philippines tallied a total of 452,988 Covid cases with 8,833 Covid deaths.

In budget deliberations at the Senate on November 16, economic managers said the Philippines has so far lost more than P3 trillion this year due to Covid-19.