Robredo calls for massive preparation for vaccine deployment

Vice President Leni Robredo on Monday urged the national government to provide additional support for local government units and prepare ahead for the massive deployment of the coronavirus vaccine.

Vice-President Leni Robredo (OVP / Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

In a public address streamed on her Facebook page, Robredo said the allocation of P1.5 billion for LGUs under the Bayanihan 2 Act will amount only to about P900,000 each. There are 1,634 cities and municipalities in the country.

“This amount is very limited, that is why the allocation should be strategic. Where is it needed the most? What are the gaps that need to be filled? These questions can be answered using data,” Robredo said, citing the Lancet Study that showed the responses of some 91 nations to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Based on this study, the Philippines ranked 66th while 10 of the 19 countries described as having “successfully suppressed” the virus are the Philippines’ neighbors in the Asia Pacific region. These are Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, China, Myanmar, Malaysia, Cambodia, New Zealand, and South Korea.

The vice president cited that an area is considered high risk when there are more than 100 active cases of COVID-19 per population of 100,000.

Data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed that as of last week, there are 66 high-risk LGUs while 495 cities and municipalities have no recorded case of community transmission.

Robredo said that ranking each LGU will capacitate them to stem the spread of COVID-19.

“We rely most on LGUs—and thus they should be given ample attention, empowerment, and support,” Robredo said. She emphasized that some LGUs have come up with the “most creative and effective responses to this crisis.”

“Many of them already have best practices—from greater coordination with the medical community and experts, to using tech-based solutions for contact tracing and to mitigate the economic effects of the pandemic,” she added.

Robredo also recognized the vital role of LGUs in the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine once it is developed.

The lady official wants the national government to prepare for the massive deployment of the vaccine. She said that the vaccine is important, which is the reason why it is “not enough to simply wait for it.”

She noted the logistical nightmare of administering the vaccine to millions of Filipinos. “We need to have a plan, the infrastructure, and a mechanism, that as much as possible can be downloaded to the level of Barangay Health Units.”

The government allotted P2.5 billion for the vaccine in next year’s budget. The amount is enough for only 3.8 million people.

“What about the rest of the 100 million? As early as now, we need to focus and prepare for the financial and other needs for the vaccine,” she said.