Slip of the tongue? Sotto says Lacson, Romualdez now vaccinated vs coronavirus

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Saturday, November 21, that two lawmakers have already been inoculated with a vaccine against the coronavirus disease.

In an interview with radio DWIZ, Sotto was asked whether he would avail of the vaccine when it was accessible here.

But instead of answering the question directly, Sotto said that Senator Panfilo Lacson and House of Representatives Majority Leader Martin Romualdez "were brave" enough to be vaccinated.

"Si Senator Lacson ang tapang, immunized na 'yun. Nagpa-injection na 'yun… Oo, nauna na 'yun, matapang 'yun. Tsaka si Martin Romualdez," said Sotto.

(Senator Lacson is so brave to be vaccinated. He was already injected with the vaccine. He already has it. He was so brave. Martin Romualdez was also vaccinated.)

Asked which pharmaceutical company provided the two with vaccines, Sotto said, "Pareho yata sa Pfizer." (I think they both got it from Pfizer.)

Pfizer recently concluded the 3rd phase of clinical trials, with a promise of 95% efficacy in its clinical trial results. The Department of Health in September said the pharmaceutical giant was not interested in conducting trials in the Philippines as it was in its advanced stages already.

It was not clear when and how the two lawmakers were inoculated with the vaccine, but Sotto said Lacson had invited them to get the vaccine as well.

"Ang biruan namin ni Senator Lacson, sabi niya, 'Partner, pa-immunize ka na.' Sabi ko, 'Titingnan muna kita,'" Sotto told DWIZ.

(Senator Lacson and I were joking and he told me, 'Partner, you should be immunized as well.' I said, 'I'll see how it goes for you first.')

Sotto said that he might be convinced to get the vaccine, seeing how Lacson fares. He added that since being vaccinated, Lacson had not been wearing a mask as much.

"Bihira na nga mag-mask. Dati nakita mo 'yun naka-mask, naka-face shield. 'Di ba? Ngayon, 'pag nakaupo lang doon, wala ng mask," Sotto said.

(He hasn't been wearing his face mask as frequent as he used to. Before, you would always see him wearing a face mask and a face shield. Right? Now, he doesn't wear it anymore when he's sitting somewhere.)

When further questioned about other senators who may have gotten the vaccine, Sotto said that it was only Lacson so far.

"Pero nakakahiya kay Ping. Baka hindi ko dapat ikinuwento sa inyo. Siya na lang tanungin 'nyo," Sotto told DWIZ.

(It might be embarrassing for Ping. Maybe I shouldn't have told you. Just ask him yourself [about the details]," said Sotto.

In a separate DWIZ interview, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri confirmed that Lacson had already been vaccinated. Zubiri said Saturday that other senators were still wary about getting the vaccine, but Lacson had told them that he "feels like a 30-year-old."

Lacson on Sunday, November 22, refused to confirm nor deny Sotto’s statement.

'Pag tinanggi ko, lalabas na sinungaling si SP. Pero alam mo kaming mga senador pag nasa lounge kami lalo na kung stressed out kami, lalo mahigit isang linggo kami sa budget, wala kaming ginawa kundi magbiruan nang biruan,” said Lacson as he refused to give a categorical statement.

(If I deny it, it will appear like SP is lying. But you know, we senators, whenever we’re in the lounge especially when we’re stressed, especially because we’ve been deliberating the budget for more than a week, we do nothing else there but joke around.)

Romualdez, meanwhile, was said to be issuing a statement on the matter.

On Friday, the Food and Drug Administration said that President Rodrigo Duterte was set to issue an emergency use authorization (EUA) for coronavirus vaccines, which would mean that it could arrive in the country before the second quarter of 2021.

Malacañang said on Thursday, November 19, that Duterte already approved "in principle" the request of the health department for an EUA.

In the US, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech had already asked government regulators for approval to roll out their vaccine early. – Rappler.com

Editor's Note: An earlier version of the story said Pfizer "is currently conducting the 3rd phase of clinical trials in the Philippines." We have corrected this error.

Aika Rey

Aika Rey covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler. Before writing about politicians, she covered budget, labor, and transportation issues.

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