A number of senators said they think it unfair that Filipinos do not have the option to choose what COVID-19 vaccine they would take under the immunization program of the government.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque recently told Filipinos they can’t be “choosy” in picking a vaccine.
“Totoo po, meron tayong lahat na karapatan para sa mabuting kalusugan pero hindi naman po puwede na pihikan dahil napakaraming Pilipino na dapat turukan,” Roque said on Monday.
“Wala pong pilian, wala kasing pilitan. Pero magsa-sign ka ng waiver na hindi ka nagpaturok at kapag ikaw ay mayroong prayoridad, siyempre mawawala ang prayoridad mo, sasama ka doon sa the rest ng taumbayan na naghihintay ng bakuna,” he added.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson believes what Roque said is unacceptable given that the government already has control of nearly everything.
“It’s bad enough that the national government virtually controls which brand/s of vaccines to procure. Pati ba naman ang pagpili kung ano ituturok sa braso ng mga Pilipino, hindi pa rin pwede mamili ang Pilipino?” Lacson said in a statement.
Roque’s remarks could possibly turn people away from the vaccination program, Sen. Franklin Drilon said.
Senators Risa Hontiveros and Joel Villanueva also want the Palace to be less reckless with what it has to say to the public.
“Our government should be working on building confidence in the vaccine program, instead of toying around with their announcements at the risk of increasing people’s aversion to the vaccine,” Villanueva said.
Citing a Pulse Asia survey which shows around 47 percent of Filipinos say they would not get inoculated, Villanueva said the government officials should be more careful because “people’s lives are at stake here.”
“Let us not reduce the discussion of vaccination into a petty argument because it’s not as simple as picking one basketball team over another. Our officials should be more circumspect with words because people’s lives are at stake here,” Villanueva added.
Roque’s remarks garnered criticism from the public, as has been the case every time he opens his mouth.
Mr spokesperson Harry Roque is the worst spokesperson ever. masama bang maging choosy ehh sa katawan kaya namin ituturok
— khel!!🐷 (@captainmike003) January 12, 2021
Bakit hindi isaksak lahat ng bakuna kay harry Roque tutal.hindi siya choosy. Iturok lahat sa kanila jan sa malacañang
Harry Roque is no longer playing the role of a spokesperson rather he's acting like HE owns the country when he said "bawal na po ang choosy"
Wow girl ha. Humanda lang mo tanan sa 2022. Tan awon nato inyong kahilas.
— rap (@i_sawyouthere) January 12, 2021
KUNG HINDI KA CHOOSY, UNAHIN NATIN MATURUKAN PAMILYA MO SHUTAKA HINDI KA TAO! #NoToSinovac!
— Shuttah Yna (@ShuttahYnaMezz) January 12, 2021
tangnang harry roque to gaslighter talaga hahaha. ipipilit yung sinovac para lang sabihin na wag tayong choosy whatta guy
— Paolo Soto (@easyhanonly) January 12, 2021
Hontiveros found Roque’s remark to be a “conform or get COVID-19” kind of message.
“Sabi ni Sec. Roque, hindi pwede maging choosy. Pero sabi niya rin na si Presidente mismo ay namimili pa between Russian and Chinese vaccines. Kung si Presidente pwedeng mamili, dapat ang taumbayan ay malaya ding makakapili at kalusugan nila iyan,” she said.
She said that Filipinos want a sense of assurance and not threats.
“We need to prove to the public that no matter where we procure the vaccine from, they can trust government to be faithful to the process from start to end—na walang lulusot pa na bakunang hindi ligtas,” she added.
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Monday shared a concurring sentiment, saying it is unfair that Filipnos do not get to choose what brand of COVID-19 vaccine they’d like to be administered with.
50,000 Filipinos are expected to get inoculated in the month of February and around 50 to 70 million is the goal for this year.
Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said the Pfzier vaccine will be used first in the country since the COVAX Facility will commence a rollout much earlier.