Senator questions DBM request for P25 billion more for COVID-19 vaccines


Posted at Jun 10 2021 11:39 AM

Senator questions DBM request for P25 billion more for COVID-19 vaccines 1
Health workers administer an AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine shot to education frontliners during a symbolic vaccination ceremony for Marikina Polytechnic College and Pamantasan ng Lungsod ng Marikina at the Marikina Sports Center on May 19, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A senator on Thursday questioned the budget department's request for another P25 billion to purchase COVID-19 vaccines.

This as government has yet to report how much of the P82.5 billion allocated for vaccine purchase has been disbursed, said Sen. Francis Pangilinan.

"We’d like to know what happened to the P82.5 billion. Why is there a request for an additional P25 billion when the existing P82.5 billion vaccine purchases have yet to materialize," he told ANC's Headstart.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III has expressed willingness to hold a Committee of the Whole hearing on the country's COVID-19 response, Pangilinan said.

"These are major issues that I think during the recess the Senate as a whole should be able to tackle," he said.

"Hopefully during the recess [that will be scheduled]. The Senate President has expressed his willingness, maybe it’s just a matter of scheduling it."

Pangilinan also called for an intensified information dissemination campaign on COVID-19 vaccines as he cited health department data that some 113,000 Filipinos did not receive their second dose.

"In December the vaccine hesitancy was 47 percent, today it's 70 percent. What happened to the information dissemination drive? Instead of convincing more, mukhang (it seems) more got convinced otherwise. That could be one of the reasons why 113,000 did not go for second dose," he said. 

The Philippines is only administering 100,000 COVID-19 shots daily instead of its target 500,000, he added.

Meantime, senators would have to be updated on the disbursement of funds under the Bayanihan to Recover As One law before it tackles a third stimulus measure, Pangilinan said.

The P401-billion Bayanihan 3 bill was passed on final reading in the House of Representatives without a certification from the national treasurer that funds are available, Pangilinan said.

"I guess that's a key challenge, you cannot enact law without certification that the funds are available," he said.

"We have to get a better sense of what Bayanihan 2 is. What the challenges are. Why is it not being rolled out as fast as it ought to be. And therefore, later basis for improving Bayanihan 2 to make sure B3 will be implemented more effectively and speedily."

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