Locsin confirms Duque ‘dropped the ball’ in Pfizer vaccine deal, but urges end to blame game

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, December 21)— Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddy Boy” Locsin Jr. on Monday confirmed it was Health Secretary Francisco Duque III who had “dropped the ball” in the country’s COVID-19 vaccine negotiations with American drug maker Pfizer.

Locsin, however, said the public “can’t keep on blaming,” noting that he is more “interested in results” moving forward.

“I’m not interested in recriminations, I’m interested in results,” Locsin said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source. “We can’t keep blaming.”

The issue first came to light last week after Locsin shared that he and Philippine Ambassador to the United States Jose Manuel "Babe" Romualdez were able to secure millions of Pfizer vaccine doses to arrive in the country by January 2021, but the plan did not push through as “someone dropped the ball.”

In a later statement, Senator Panfilo “Ping” Lacson then pointed to Duque, claiming the embattled Health chief failed to work on the necessary documents, particularly on signing the confidential disclosure agreement on time.

Defending himself from the claims, Duque, in an earlier interview with CNN Philippines, said there were no 10 million doses to speak of, saying the papers that reached his office only consisted of "generalities" representing the early steps of supply negotiations.

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Locsin also earlier said that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has already committed to help the country secure and “get back” some coronavirus vaccines from Pfizer following issues on the deal.

“We’ll get what we can, and also we’ll get what we are prepared to receive,” the DFA secretary noted.

Duque still enjoys Duterte's trust

Calls for Duque’s resignation resurfaced online following the revelations, but Malacañang said the Health Secretary continues to enjoy President Rodrigo Duterte's trust.

"All members of the Cabinet serve at the pleasure of the President. Sa ngayon po, patuloy pa rin ang pagtiwala ni Presidente kay Sec. Duque, ang sabi lang niya, sagutin ang mga paratang ni Sec. Locsin," Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque said in his media briefing.

[Translation: All members of the Cabinet serve at the pleasure of the President. For now, Duterte continues to trust Sec. Duque, he just asked Duque to answer the allegations.]