President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on March 15, 2021. KING RODRIGUEZ/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said the government’s procurement of Covid-19 vaccines was free of corruption after senators questioned the dependence on loans and the country’s low vaccine supply.

Duterte said the money the government had borrowed remained with the banks and would not reach officials’ hands in the procurement process.

“Kapag maghiram ka ng pera sa bangko, magbayad ka, it is not done by money. E kailangan mong limang truck diyan bago mo hakutin ‘yang pera na ‘yan,” he said in a meeting with Cabinet and health officials.

“Iyan po ay papel lang and you know, if you are afraid of corruption, let your mind go easy because these things are not susceptible to anything. The money is in the hands of the bank and they collect ‘yong nagpabili sa atin ng bakuna from the bank.”

Duterte also slammed critics of the government amid the pandemic.

“That’s what you would call the classic case of if you want to appear white, you paint the other guy black para ang labas mo puting-puti ka. Si Mr. Clean, parang ganoon. Ganoon ‘yan e, style bulok.”

Senators Risa Hontiveros and Panfilo Lacson earlier questioned the pace of the country’s vaccination rollout and how the money borrowed for the purchase of vacc

ines was being used.

The country has borrowed almost $1 billion to fund its vaccine procurement.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez admitted that the government’s vaccine rollout was slow-paced at the start because only healthcare workers were being vaccinated.

“So ang targeted vaccination po natin by April and May… Sa ngayon po, medyo mabagal po tayo dahil kasi po ang ating binabakunahan ay mga healthcare workers,” he said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro