Lacson wants full accounting of P82.5-B fund for COVID vaccines


Posted at Jun 14 2021 10:50 AM

Lacson wants full accounting of P82.5-B fund for COVID vaccines 1
Healthworkers open a box of vials of Sinovac’s COVID19 vaccine at the Manila Prince Hotel on May 28, 2021. The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) approved the prioritization of athletes, officials, and staff of the Philippine delegation in preparation for the upcoming Olympics and SEA Games. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Senate will convene as a Committee of the Whole on Tuesday to discuss the rollout of the government COVID-19 vaccination program and deliberate whether it would allot more funds for jab procurement, Senator Panfilo Lacson said Monday.

The Department of Budget and Management has asked lawmakers for another P25 billion funds with "no clear accounting" of the P82.5 billion previously allocated for COVID-19 vaccines, Lacson said.

"We want a full accounting of the P82.5 billion. How much of the P82.5 (billion) came from borrowings? Kasi (Because) we keep borrowing using the vaccination program as the justification to borrow," he told ANC's Headstart.

"It depends on their presentation. If the P82.5 billion has been obligated and we see we still lack vaccines, then we might give it to them but we need a full accounting of the P82.5 billion first."

The Philippines has so far received vaccines it procured from China's Sinovac alongside some 1 million doses donated by Beijing, and AstraZeneca and Pfizer COVID-19 jabs through global alliance COVAX Facility, according to Lacson.

"Magkano na ba dun sa (How much from the) P82.5 (billion) set aside for the vaccines...magkano na nagastos at ano na ba ang nabili nating brands aside from Sinovac?" he said.

(How much have we spent and what brands have we bought aside from Sinovac?)

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The senator, meantime, said the national government should give local officials some "leeway" in implementing its vaccination program.

Lacson cited the many subcategories of Filipinos prioritized for COVID-19 inoculation.

"'Yung rollout because of the so many restrictive protocols kaya nadedelay ang actual implementation," he said.

(The actual implementation of the rollout is being delayed because of the so many restrictive protocols.)

"Dapat kung sino nasa ground bigyan ng konting flexibility. 'Yung regulations dapat 'di masyado restrictive, open-ended nang kaunti para magkaroon ng flexibility yung mga tao sa ground."

(Officials on the ground should be given some flexibility. Regulations should not be too restrictive, it should be somewhat open-ended to give flexibility to those on the ground.)

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The Philippines aims to vaccinate 500,000 daily in Metro Manila and 8 other key economic hubs to achieve "population protection" by November 27, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said.

Some 1.681 million Filipinos have received their second dose of COVID-19 vaccines as 6.31 million doses have been administered in total as of June 8, government said.