Press Release
February 19, 2021

Hontiveros urges NTF to commit, finalize vaccination timeline

Senator Risa Hontiveros urged the National Taskforce Against COVID-19 (NTF) to commit to a vaccination timeline before making public statements amid devastating unemployment in the country.

The NTF had earlier announced that the COVAX facility vaccines were to arrive on February 14, but recently reported that they have been delayed to February 26, as much as 2 weeks later.

"As long as the cases of COVID-19 are rising, we cannot relax health protocols and we cannot fully open up the economy. Any delay in the vaccination rollout means people will have to face tremendous suffering in the pandemic for even longer. Tigilan ng NTF ang kanilang fear of commitment sa vaccination rollout because it is costing us jobs and is making the people hungrier," she said.

"Para lang silang nagda-darts ng dates sa kalendaryo, bahala na lang kung saan tumama. Magkaroon naman sana sila ng accountability sa mga inaannounce nila. Itong atras-abante ng NTF ay di nakakadagdag sa kumpiyansa ng publiko. The only thing they are achieving at this point is confusing the public," she said.

Hontiveros said the vaccination program was "clearly not off to a good start." She added that the major stumbles of the NTF could have been avoided with due diligence.

"I hate to hear that they keep on using the lack of global supply as an excuse when Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan, also developing countries, have already begun their vaccination program with Pfizer and Astra Zeneca. Those are the same brands of vaccines we were supposed to have received by now. Ang ibig sabihin lang nito ay nasa atin ang problema. NTF should acknowledge that so that slipups don't happen again," she added.

Hontiveros added that the government should stop using the impending arrival of the Chinese-donated Sinovac vaccines as a "distraction from their mistakes." The NTF said that the first COVID-19 vaccine to arrive in the country will inevitably be the 600,000 doses of Sinovac the Chinese government committed to donate.

"Every time the date for the vaccine rollout is moved, they add that we shouldn't worry because Sinovac is coming. Parang ginagamit nila ang mga ireregalong bakuna bilang panakip-butas sa mga pagkukulang nila. Not only is that donated supply completely insufficient, and the date for its arrival delayed as well time and time again, but we can't even use it yet because the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not issued an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for it," she said.

"Hindi pwedeng sasabay lang tayo sa agos pagdating sa national vaccination plan dahil mas marami ang magkakasakit, magugutom, mahihirapan at mamamatay. Have a sense of responsibility to our people and even more so a sense of urgency," Hontiveros concluded.

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