MANILA, Sept 11 (Mabuhay) –The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday said none of the US-based manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccine asked for the pardon of US Marine Joseph Scott Pemberton so that the Philippines may be given access to the potential shots that could spell the end of the pandemic.

“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 gave this response to a query that stemmed from presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s statement on Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte may have given Pemberton absolute pardon to ensure that Filipinos will be able to benefit from US-developed anti-COVID vaccines.

Pemberton was previously sentenced to up to 10 years in prison after killing Filipino transgender woman Jennifer Laude in 2014.

“Alam ko po ang emphasis ng ating Presidente ay makakuha ng vaccine para sa mga Pilipino,” said Roque, a 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 maka-develop, wala po akong problema diyan,” he added.

Roque said it was possible that the pardon was discussed during the farewell call of US Ambassador Sung Kim on Duterte last Monday.

Meanwhile, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said that the US did not make any request for the grant of Pemberton’s pardon and that even Kim was surprised by the development. (MNS)

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