Dropped amendment cuts COVID-19 vaccine funding by nearly P10B in 2021 budget

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 09 2020 12:58 PM | Updated as of Dec 09 2020 01:41 PM

Dropped amendment cuts COVID-19 vaccine funding by nearly P10B in 2021 budget 1
Vials labeled "COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" are placed on dry ice in this illustration taken, December 4, 2020. Picture taken December 4, 2020. Dado Ruvic, Reuters/Illustration/File

MANILA - Funding for COVID-19 vaccines was slashed by about P10 billion under the 2021 budget after Congress on Wednesday dropped an amendment that would increase the original allocation of P2.5 billion for the purchase of the drug.

The Senate and the House of Representatives earlier approved the following breakdown for the purchase, storage and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines:

  • P8 billion under the Department of Health (under Office of the Secretary)
  • P54 billion under unprogrammed appropriations for vaccines
  • P21 billion under unprogrammed appropriations for storage, transportation and distribution costs of vaccines

But after the bicameral deliberations on the 2021 budget ended on December 9, programmed funding for the vaccines was reverted to P2.5 billion, the original proposal of the executive department before the House of Representatives pushed to increase it by P5.5 billion.

"Under the budget for 2021 there is P72.5 billion total for vaccines while under Bayanihan 2 there is P10 billion so total of P82.5 billion once budget is passed into law," Senate Committee on Finance chair Sen. Sonny Angara told reporters in a text message.


When asked why bulk of the Philippines' COVID-19 vaccine fund was marked under unprogrammed allocations, Angara said the Department of Finance (DOF) "assured" lawmakers that the item would be funded next year.

Under the law, funding for unprogrammed items in the budget is only generated once the government exceeds its target collection of non-tax revenues.

"Ang akala kasi ng iba 'pag unprogrammed hindi siya mapopondohan. That's not true. The probability of funding it is large," Angara said in a press conference.

(Others think that it cannot be funded if it's unprogrammed.)

"What’s important is funding is there and can be accessed and in the case of unprogrammed funds the triggers for release is exceeding non-tax revenues which has been done in past years and is very, very likely for 2021," he told ABS-CBN News in a separate text message

Malacañang earlier said that it would prioritize some 24.6 million Filipinos against COVID-19, including frontliners and vulnerable sectors.


The Department of Health's budget next year - when countries are expected to procure vaccines against COVID-19 - is at least P400 billion lower than allocations for education and infrastructure.

As in every year, the Department of Education got the biggest chunk of the national budget with P708.18 billion for 2021, followed by the Department of Public Works and Highways with P694.82 billion.

The DOH is expected to get P287.47 billion next year.

The House and the Senate are expected to ratify the 2021 spending bill on the December 9 session of Congress.



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