A Cabinet official’s visibility on TikTok was blasted by some Filipinos after he admitted to being unaware of columnist Mon Tulfo‘s claims that he and other officials have been inoculated with Sinopharm‘s COVID-19 vaccine.
In an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel on Wednesday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that Tulfo’s revelation was “news” to him.
“I am not aware of that. Hindi namin napag-usapan sa Cabinet meeting. That is news to me,” the official was quoted as saying in the televised interview.
“I really don’t know the details,” he added.
The Cabinet official said that they will leave it to “appropriate government agencies to take action” on the incident.
“If it is indeed actionable,” he added.
The Food and Drug Administration said that it would investigate Tulfo’s admission of the use of a smuggled COVID-19 vaccine.
COVID-19 vaccines must first secure an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the agency before they can be rolled out to the public through the government’s mass vaccination drive, which has not yet started.
Tulfo, who acts as the government’s special envoy for public diplomacy to China, revealed that he and some “Cabinet-level” officials have been inoculated with Sinopharm last October.
He added that a senator has also been vaccinated as well.
A month before that, the close-in security personnel of President Rodrigo Duterte was similarly jabbed with the China-made vaccine.
Tulfo said that he received Sinopharm with the help of a friend “who smuggled it into the country.”
The news was not received well by Filipinos who saw it as another case of VIP treatment. This issue first made headlines after some government officials had the release of their COVID-19 testing results prioritized at a time when test kits were still lacking.
Meanwhile, Nograles’ admission of being in the dark about the unauthorized Sinopharm vaccination prompted Filipinos to bring up his regular presence in a famous video-sharing platform.
“Sayaw ka kasi nang sayaw sa TikTok,” a Twitter user said in response to the official’s remarks.
“Puro ka kasi TikTok, Kaloy,” another online user wrote.
“Kaka-TikTok mo ‘yan baccs (baks),” Twitter account “Engineers of Manila” said.
Nograles has been recently gaining traction for his TikTok presence where he shares dancing video of himself with content related to vaccine information.
In his clips, he takes on dancing challenges while answering questions on vaccine concerns and promoting public confidence about it.
The Cabinet secretary’s videos are also posted on his Instagram account.
Reports said the official is “known for his fondness for dancing.”
Another official known for his TikTok videos is presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who got reinstated in his role shortly after he joined the popular video-sharing platform.
His predecessor, chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo, said that the former was reappointed as “the present crisis requires a new tack in messaging.”
The reappointment was made a month after Luzon was placed under the enhanced community quarantine to mitigate the risk of COVID-19 transmission.