Malacañang is confident that no drug manufacturer can bribe its way into the Philippines as the country works on acquiring COVID-19 vaccines.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque (OPS / MANILA BULLETIN)
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after a Washington Post report said court records show that Sinovac, a Chinese firm applying to run COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials in the Philippines, acknowledged a bribery case involving its CEO.
Its CEO was also said to have bribed China’s drug regulator for vaccine approval in 2003 during the SARS outbreak. The CEO said he could not refuse the official who demanded money.
In his Thursday presser, Roque expressed confidence that Food and Drug Administration (FDA) officer-in-charge Enrique Domingo will not allow such things to happen in the Philippines.
“Buong-buo po ang tiwala ni Presidente kay (President Duterte has full trust in) Dr. Domingo,” he said.
“So pagdating po diyan sa mga allegations on bribery, tingin ko po hindi ‘yan mangyayari sa Pilipinas (when it comes to bribery allegations, I think that will not happen in the Philippines),” he added.
Roque reiterated that the Philippines will only allow safe and effective vaccines in the Philippines.
“Consistent po tayo na papayagan lang nating magamit ang mga bakuna na napatunayang ligtas at mabisa laban sa COVID-19 (We are consistent that we will only approve vaccines that are safe and effective against COVID-19 to be used in the country),” he added.
This week, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that his department is aware of the report.
“This will also form part of the work of the vaccine expert panel. They will assess the veracity first and foremost of such a report,” he said in a virtual briefing.
Sinovac is one of China’s two COVID-19 vaccine frontrunners. Its clinical testing is in the same final stage as the vaccine developed by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.