“Hindi ako pikon. Galit ako.”

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he was angry over Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo’s spewing of “half-truths” about Sinovac vaccines after the latter called for the involvement of the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) in vaccine authorization.

“Imbis na magtulong tuloy to convince the people, here she comes and making it appear that government has failed in its mandate of securing… Ma’am, hindi ako napikon,” he said in a televised address.

Duterte pointed out that the HTAC could only make recommendations.

“Ang akin medyo galit ako for coming with a half-truth na basahin mo kalahati lang, iyong recommendatory power lang na hindi na kinuha dahil hindi na nga kailangan kasi donated iyon e at saka binigyan ng authority ng FDA (Food and Drug Authorization),” he said.

Duterte said it was important for government officials to address the public’s vaccine hesitancy, and that’s why he got mad at Robredo.

“So iyong imbis makatulong si vice president, she muddled up everything. Thereby, I said, creating an uncertainty and doubt in the minds of the people. So ‘yon ang nagalitan ko because we were running against time, kailangan mabakuna na agad.”

Robredo raised concern over the Sinovac vaccine as it lacked HTAC approval, unlike Pfizer and AstraZeneca vaccines.

The FDA has given emergency use authorization to all three vaccine brands.

As of Monday, the Philippines has inoculated 44,000 individuals against Covid-19, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said in a meeting with Duterte.

Robredo camp: Work goes on

Robredo’s spokesman Ibarra Gutierrez said work would go on as usual for Robredo following Duterte’s recent remarks.

“Sa kanila na ‘yang puro paninisi, itutuloy na lang namin ang trabaho,” he said in a statement.

He also scoffed at the Duterte administration’s seeming pattern to always blame Robredo.

“Kulelat tayo sa pagkuha ng bakuna? Awayin si Leni Robredo. Mabagal ang pagtugon sa bagyo at baha? Siraan si Leni Robredo. Milyon-milyon ang nawalan ng trabaho? Insultuhin si Leni Robredo.”“This administration spends more time attacking Leni Robredo than responding to the real, urgent problems of our people and nation,” Gutierrez added. John Ezekiel J. Hirro