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1月21日のまにら新聞から

Duterte tells Galvez, other officials to walkout if senators become "abusive" during hearing on COVID-19 vaccines

[ 341 words|2021.1.21|英字 (English) ]

President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered his key Cabinet officials to continue attending the Senate investigation on government's vaccination program against coronavirus disease but they could "walk out" in the event that the lawmakers would become "abusive," Malacanang said on Wednesday.

In an interview with CNN Philippines, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte made the directive even if Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. will lose "about two weeks worth of negotiations with drug suppliers" with his attendance in the Senate inquiry.

"I think to be transparent, the issue was Secretary Galvez was saying because of the Senate hearings, he has lost about two weeks worth of negotiations with drug suppliers. So, Secretary Galvez, in fact, was saying 'could I skip the hearing, because it's very important that I resume negotiations with the vaccine developers because otherwise, we might run out of supplies'," Roque said.

But he said Duterte told Galvez and other government officials, such as Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, to remain present in the upcoming hearings.

"In fairness to the President, his answer was, 'go to the Senate, continue answering questions, continue the way in the manner that you have been answering and if they become abusive to you verbally, just stand up and leave," the spokesman said.

He added that Duterte told Galvez and Duque that if the Senate would cite them in contempt for walking out, he would come and fetch them.

"So, Secretary Galvez and Secretary Duque, if the Senate will have a hearing this Friday, will be there but with instruction that if anyone becomes verbally abusive to them, they have the license to stand up and leave," Roque said.

Senators, in the past hearings, had grilled Galvez and other government officials especially on the alleged overpriced COVID-19 vaccines, including China's Sinovac.

They wanted the executive department to disclose the true prices of the COVID-19 vaccines. But Duterte and his Cabinet officials have been insisting that the prices were covered by the non-disclosure agreement with the pharmaceutical companies that the government has been negotiating with. Celerina Monte/DMS