Provincial governors eyeing procurement of COVID-19 vaccines for constituents

Sherrie Ann Torres, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 24 2020 06:43 PM | Updated as of Dec 24 2020 10:28 PM

MANILA -- Provincial governors in the country are planning to procure anti-coronavirus vaccines to strengthen their provinces’ defense against COVID-19.
Quirino Governor Dakila Cua, president of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), confirmed this to ABS-CBN News Thursday, disclosing that such plan was already discussed by ULAP members during their December 15 and 18 meetings with key government officials.
"Nag-meeting kami last December 18 and one of our guests in that general assembly was Secretary (Delfin) Lorenzana from the IATF. And pinag-usapan nga that some provinces, if not all, are interested in buying some vaccines for us to distribute nationwide," he said.
Cua also said they are now waiting for clear guidelines from the national government on how they could procure the vaccine.

The guidelines would include the national government’s recommendation on the specifications for the needed vaccine, process of procurement, and distribution, among others.
Cua likewise said ULAP members would also need proper logistical requirement guides like on the needed capacity of the facility and storage temperature to keep the vaccine.
Required funding and the idea of utilizing the provincial disaster funds should also be settled.
“Kami namin dito sa probinsya ng Quirino gusto rin namin na bumili. Granted na limited po talaga 'yung budget natin, hindi pa rin kasi clear 'yung magiging total final cost ng vaccines when it lands here in our country and after distribution cost pa… but definitely interesado kami na mag-procure,” he said.
In the event that use of disaster funds will be prohibited for vaccine procurement, the provinces, according to Cua, will consider collaborating with private companies, sponsors or donors to acquire the vaccine.
Cua admits that while it is not a requirement for the provinces to acquire their own vaccines, local officials only want to be “pro-active” by helping the government procure the vaccine.
“Alam naman natin kasi na hindi 100 percent ang maba-vaccinate ng national government. And if we can somehow increase the number of people that we can provide vaccination for, 'di mas matinding proteksyon naman ng ating mga kababayan," Cua pointed out.

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In Quirino, for example, Cua said they want to prioritize the “vulnerable sector” like the frontliners.
In the event that local government units will be able to acquire vaccines first, their province will inoculate their frontliners, and then request the national government to vaccinate their teachers, and if possible, children. 
Provinces that are not capable to buy vaccines will just be assisted by LGUs that can acquire vaccines, Cua said.
Meanwhile, Cua underlined the league’s position on the need to defer the Department of Education’s plan to hold selected face-to-face classes starting next year.
He said the danger being posed by COVID-19 remains serious.
“Hindi pa ako ganun ka-komportable. I’m having dialogues with DepEd and also our parent-teachers’ association. Honestly, sa aking pananaw, I would respectfully request na i-defer muna for the province of Quirino, until such time. Hindi naman kami totally sarado, but allow us to come up with protocols," Cua said.
“Ang pakiusap ko huwag munang i-implement dito sa atin hangga’t wala pa tayong clear guidelines together with DepEd and DOH, at least locally. Pagka-naliwanag mo 'yan, ipe-present ko pa 'yan sa ating sanggunian, sa ating parents and teachers. And if there’s the consensus, I think that’s the time to proceed,” he added.


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