JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay, game, sir. Sa Sinovac, you seem to be very, very confident of Sinovac to the point na you’re sounding like a salesperson of Sinovac. Where is the confidence coming from?
SEC. ROQUE: Alam mo, ang strategic communication is not just giving information; it’s selling the truth – that’s what I do. It came from clinical trials in Turkey, it came from clinical trials in Indonesia and of course the UAE leader has had himself vaccinated already by the Chinese vaccine as well.
So the confidence is because the clinical trials have been conducted and because Sinovac is coming in February, we need to tell the people the truth that it has undergone very close clinical trials in countries other than China; and the fact that it has been given to the Chinese people.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Only to the Chinese people and it has not been used in the Philippines yet?
SEC. ROQUE: I have no information on that po.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Okay. Sir, if you are so confident about Sinovac, will the President—and this is in the backdrop of a very low confidence of vaccines sa mga Pilipino ‘no. If you are confident with Sinovac, will you allow the President or does he want to be vaccinated with Sinovac and you make this public like President Biden in the US and all the other leaders in the world to inspire confidence?
SEC. ROQUE: As I said, President Widodo po will have his Sinovac vaccine on the 13th of January. Si Presidente po malinaw, gusto nga niyang magpaturok kaagad. Gusto niya Tsino at saka Russian. Ang tinatanong niya, puwede bang pareho? Ang tingin ko, hindi. So kinakailangan mamili ang Presidente kung Tsino o Russian ang kaniyang ipatuturok. Pero dahil mauuna ang Tsino eh baka naman po ‘no na unahin niya ang Tsino.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Magsa-Sinovac siya, sir, and will this public?
SEC. ROQUE: As I said, I’m only right now speculating but what the President has said repeatedly is gusto nga niyang magpabakuna na ng Chinese and Russian, and ang tanong lang niya puwede bang pareho which is—even if I’m not a doctor, parang ang sagot ko, hindi. So he will have to choose if he wants Chinese or he wants Russian.
JOSEPH MORONG/GMA7: Sir, what happened kasi parang biglang bumilis iyong Sinovac? Did we do something to speed up the arrival, the timeline of Sinovac in the Philippines?
SEC. ROQUE: My official answer is: I do not know. But the President did say, “Hindi ako makakaantay hanggang July.” Because at that time, ang in-announce was the western brands are coming in July and he said, “Kung ako naiinip eh lalo na iyong ordinaryong Pilipino.” So hindi ko na alam kung anong ginawa ni Presidente para mapabilis iyong dating ng Sinovac.
SEC. ROQUE: If I’m not mistaken, parang mayroon nang application or at least preliminary steps have been taken by the Sinovac manufacturer or its agent to procure an EUA expecting nga that by February baka dumating na iyong Sinovac sa Pilipinas.
PIA RAÑADA/RAPPLER: Sir, just on Sinovac vaccine. Sir, has the government paid for or are we expected to pay for this Sinovac vaccine?
SEC. ROQUE: Well, I don’t know about the terms and conditions. But of course, we expect that it will be paid, but let’s see, maybe – just maybe, I’m just speculating – China will donate ‘no some of it. Let’s see because their Chinese Foreign Minister is coming. I do not know what he will say, but many of us are praying that perhaps some of these vaccines can be donated. After all, we do have very close relations with China.
PIA RAÑADA/RAPPLER: And then, sir, just on its EUA ‘no. So you were saying earlier that you expect Sinovac to apply for EUA. And an EUA requires 21 days at least for it to be issued. It’s already January, and you were saying we expect the Sinovac doses in February. So, sir, will we wait for an EUA before accepting the delivery?
SEC. ROQUE: Definitely, we will wait for the EUA before we administer. But we can do what Indonesia did – accept delivery and wait for the approval of regulatory authorities ‘no.
Pero let me just verify kasi I’m just not 100% sure, but let me just verify the status of Sinovac. I know they’re about to file; I do not know if they have in fact filed.
PIA RAÑADA/RAPPLER: Okay. And then, sir, last question not about the vaccine anymore. Sir, last week, Senate President Sotto was saying that the President told congressional leaders that he wanted to amend the Constitution to exclude certain leftist groups or groups that want the falling of the government from being recognized as partylists. Sir, can we just clarify: What exactly did the President say about this?
SEC. ROQUE: I was not in the meeting. In fact, we were having I think another affair when that meeting happened; because I was aware of that affair but I had to choose ‘no—no, I think, I was sent to an event on behalf of the President. But I cannot dispute what Senate President Sotto said because he was present, and I will leave it at that because I have no personal knowledge otherwise.
TRICIAH TERADA/CNN PHILS: Sir, speaking of Sinovac ‘no. In an interview, Senator Lacson asked, I’ll quote him, “Ano ba ang special sa Sinovac, bakit parang iyon ang hinihintay natin, when other vaccines have applied earlier or have been available earlier?”
SEC. ROQUE: Unang-una po, iyon ang vaccine na una nating nakuha, ang pinakauna po sa mga western brands at alam ko naman, dahil lantad ang colonial mentality nating mga Pilipino, eh July pa. So ang sabi nga ni Presidente – at iyon iyong petsa na sinabi kay Presidente ni Secretary Galvez noong bago naging malinaw na kukuha tayo ng Chinese vaccines – hindi siya makapaghintay, importante na maturukan na ang ating mga kababayan. Hindi nga kasi tayo makakuha ng mga western brands, kasi iyong mga mayayamang bansa binayaran na para ma-develop man lang iyong vaccine na iyon – iyon ang katotohanan. But I think the earliest date that the western brands will come in is in July. So there is nothing spectacular about Sinovac other than it’s been proven safe and efficient, 91.5 in at least three jurisdictions that we know of. Maski tatanungin po ninyo iyong mga eksperto, iyong mga vaccinologist, eh talagang inactivated po iyan, ibig sabihin, natural. Ito po ay pinahinang virus which is the traditional vaccines that we have known for the past 300 years.