President Rodrigo Duterte remained supportive of Health Secretary Francisco Duque, who was pinpointed as the Philippine official who “dropped the ball” on the country’s procurement of 10 million doses of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccines.

In a Palace briefing on Thursday, Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque said Duterte saw no “major lapse” on Duque’s part.

“I think from the overall demeanor of the president ay wala naman po siyang nakikita na major lapse dahil ang pinag-usapan po ay kontrata at hindi naman abogado po si Secretary Duque,” Roque said.

Duque was identified by Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson as the Philippine official who mishandled vaccine talks with Pfizer, as brought up by Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin in a series of cryptic tweets.

According to Locsin, the Philippines would have secured 10 million Pfizer vaccine doses by January 2021 if the deal pushed through.

Locsin revealed in a message to reporters that Duque specifically failed to work on a necessary document, which led to the talks falling apart.

“They 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,” Lacson said in a message to Wednesday night.

“The country representative of Pfizer was even following up on the submission of such documentary requirements… [but] as we now know, Singapore has the vaccines and we don’t,” he added.

Roque claimed the Philippines would have lost the vaccine race regardless, as the Pfizer vaccines were already paid for by other countries.

“Iyong katotohanan na bagama’t sinabi na dapat January tayo makakakuha ng Pfizer, ang reyalidad po talaga is paid for na po iyong mga ginawa o na-manufacture ng Pfizer for delivery in January, dahil iyan po ay bayad na noong mga bumili,” he said.

But according to Lacson, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III had made the assurance that funding for the vaccines was ready before talks fell apart.

In a Dec. 15 tweet, Locsin said he and Philippine Ambassador to the US Babe Romualdez “got 10 million doses of Pfizer [vaccines] financed by World Bank and ADB to be shipped thru FEDEX to Clark in January.”

Duque earlier refuted Locsin’s claim and said negotiations with Pfizer were ongoing.

Lacson however said the ongoing talks were just a “renewed initiative after they missed the bus the first time.” John Ezekiel J. Hirro