'Nasaan ka bakuna?': Palace hits query on slow vaccine procurement despite billions in loans

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS CBN News

Posted at Mar 19 2021 02:40 PM | Updated as of Mar 19 2021 02:51 PM

MANILA — Malacañang on Friday objected to a lawmaker's inquiry into the pace of government's procurement of COVID-19 vaccines given billions in pesos of loans that the country has incurred for pandemic response. 

Sen. Panfilo Lacson on Thursday tweeted a list of Philippine loans from various organizations and asked, "Nasaan ka bakuna?" 

(Where are you vaccine?)

There is no government official who has access to these funds, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque. 

“Mula pagbili o procurement hanggang sa pagbayad ng mga bakuna ay ima-manage ng ating multilateral partners. Ibig sabihin po, bagamat tayo’y binigyan ng kumbaga, credit line, iyong pag-draw down po sa credit line para sa pagbili ng bakuna, didiretso po ‘yan sa vaccine manufacturer,” Roque said in a press briefing.

(From procurement to payment of the vaccines, these are managed by our multilateral partners. That mean that even if we were granted credit line, drawing down this credit line for the procurement of vaccines will go straight to vaccine manufacturers.)

“Hindi po dapat magtanong na sa kabila ng mga nautang na salapi e nasaan ang bakuna. Meron lang tayong approved loans at iyong mga proceeds po ng mga loans, diretsong ibabayad ‘yan sa vaccine manufacturers,” he added 

(We should not ask where the vaccines are despite our loans. We have approved loans and the proceeds of these loans will go straight to vaccine manufacturers.) 

The Philippines has so far secured 600,000 China-donated COVID-19 shots from Beijing-based Sinovac Biotech, and 525,600 doses of Britain's AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine through the COVAX Facility. 

Authorities expect to receive 1.4 million more Sinovac doses in March, and about 900,000 AstraZeneca doses this month or in early April, said the country's vaccine "czar" Secretary Carlito Galvez. 

Battling a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Philippines this year aims to vaccinate 70 million people or two-thirds of its population against the respiratory disease.

Video courtesy of PTV