The Department of Health (DOH) said Friday US manufacturers of the COVID vaccine did not ask for the pardon and release of US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton in exchange for the country’s access to the potential vaccines.
“We have had discussions already with manufacturers from the US. No conditions were provided or given para sa atin. Lahat naman ng ‘yan, dadaan sa regulatory process natin,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online forum.
“Hindi po tayo naka-receive ng kahit na anumang kondisyon na ganito, based on the discussions that we have had with the manufacturer from the US,” she added.
The DOH made the remark after presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said yesterday that he believes President Rodrigo Duterte granted Pemberton an absolute pardon to ensure that Filipinos would get access to the COVID vaccine developed by the US.
The US is one of the countries in the world that is currently developing the COVID vaccine against the coronavirus, which infected over 28 million and killed nearly one million people.
COVID vaccine in exchange for Pemberton?
Roque said at a televised briefing that he believed Duterte chose the interest of the country when he decided to let Pemberton walk away free from killing Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude in October 2014.
“Alam ko po ang emphasis ng ating Presidente ay makakuha ng vaccine para sa mga Pilipino [I know the emphasis of our President is to get a vaccine for Filipinos],” he said, adding the President’s decision did not surprise him.
Roque is the former lawyer of the Laude family.
“Bagama’t tayo po ang tumayong abagado ng pamilya Laude eh kung ang ibig sabihin naman niyan eh lahat ng Pilipino ay magkakaroon ng vaccine, kung ang mga Amerikano ang maka-develop, wala po akong problema diyan,” he added.
(Although we are the lawyers for the Laude family, if that means that all Filipinos will have a vaccine if the Americans can develop it, I have no problem with that.)
The Palace official said US Ambassador Sung Kim might have discussed Pemberton’s pardon with Duterte during his farewell call on Monday even if Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said that the US did not ask for it.