MANILA - The national government should allow local government units (LGUs) to directly purchase COVID-19 vaccines from manufacturers, Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez said Wednesday.
The Cagayan de Oro City lawmaker has filed House Resolution 1460, urging the government's pandemic task force to allow localities to import vaccines for their constituents.
"All of this red tape will cause delay in these local governments being able to take care of their constituents," he told ANC.
Rodriguez said LGUs were barred from making vaccine deals without approval from the national government, which he lamented as slow and insufficient.
Under the 2021 national budget, the government only allocated P72.5 billion for vaccine procurement, he said.
That would only allow health authorities to inoculate at least 30 percent of the country's population, preventing the country from reaching herd immunity, he added.
"If the national government continues to restrict LGUs, we are running against time," the lawmaker said.
Rodriguez also appealed to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to fast-track its procedure in approving COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use and follow the lead of other countries.
He noted that experimental vaccines developed by Pfizer and AstraZeneca had already been approved in the US and UK, which have more stringent regulations
"Their FDAs there are very efficient and modern. How are we going again to examine these vaccines? No more. FDA should now follow the lead of these very advanced countries in approving the vaccines and put them on the list so that the LGUs can already buy," Rodriguez said.
Several LGUs, mostly in the Philippine capital, have already placed advance orders of COVID-19 vaccine developed by AstraZeneca.