MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday expressed his willingness to gamble his presidency to prove that National Policy Against Covid-19 Chief Implementer and vaccine czar, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., is a man of honor and has no links to corruption.
“Ipusta ko ‘yung presidency ko. Walang graft ‘yan at si Secretary Galvez, kilala ko (I will bet my presidency on Galvez. He is not involved in graft practices. I know him),” Duterte said in a speech delivered in Jolo, Sulu.
He made the statement after some senators earlier questioned Galvez’s alleged refusal to disclose the prices of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines that the Philippine government would receive from at least seven drugmakers.
The President vouched for Galvez’s integrity, saying the vaccine czar is “doing everything he can” to help the country succeed in its fight against Covid-19.
He also said he saw Galvez's potential to serve the government when the latter played a key role in the 2017 Marawi siege.
A former military man, Galvez was among the generals who led the five-month battle against a terrorist group in Marawi City in 2017.
“I was there in Marawi when we were fighting the Islamists and I saw in him the… Kaya noong pag-retire niya, kinuha ko. Tapos ngayon ito, ibinigay ko sa kanya lahat (So when he retired, I chose him to be part of my Cabinet. And now, I gave him the task [to lead the vaccination drive]),” Duterte said.
Galvez on Wednesday said the government is expected to finalize the supply agreements with seven pharmaceutical firms by the end of January or the first week of February.
The Philippine government has been negotiating with Covid-19 vaccine makers Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, Sinovac, Gamaleya, and Novavax.
During the resumption of the Senate hearing on the government’s Covid-19 vaccine acquisition program on Friday, Galvez assured that the selection and procurement of Covid-19 vaccines would be “science-based” and would heed the recommendation of the vaccine expert panel and the Food and Drug Administration.
The government has set aside about PHP82.5 billion for the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccines.
It has also signed term sheet agreements with Novovax, Moderna, and AstraZeneca for the delivery of 30 million, 20 million, and 17 million doses of their vaccine, respectively.
Some 50,000 doses of the Sinovac vaccine are also expected to arrive in the country in February. (PNA)