The country has covered all bases in getting access to potential coronavirus vaccines but will need the approval of the proposed 2021 national budget for the funding allocation, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.
Nograles said the government’s budget proposal for next year includes the allocation for the procurement of the life-saving vaccines for the coronavirus.
“Ang tanong may pambayad ba tayo. Iba ‘yung access, iba ang pambayad so kaya nga worried din tayo at nag-aalala tayo sa budget na 2021 (The question is do we have the budget to pay for the vaccines. Access is different from budget for payment. So we are worried about the 2021 national budget),” Roque said during a forum on Facebook.
“Ayaw natin mabulilyaso ‘yan at magkanda-leche-leche ang budget na ‘yan dahil nakapaloob sa 2021 budget ‘yung nakapaloob pondo para sa vaccines (We don’t want the budget measure botched or bungled because the 2021 budget includes the funds for the vaccines),” he added.
If the new spending plan is not passed on time, Nograles said the government will be compelled to operate on a reenacted budget, which does not include any budget item for vaccine purchase. He said the government would have look for other funding sources to buy the vaccines.
President Duterte has called on Congress to convene a special session from Oct. 13 to 16 to resume the deliberations on the proposed P4.506-trillion national budget for next year and avoid delays on its passage. The budget measure, which carries the theme “Reset, Rebound, and Recover: Investing for Resiliency and Sustainability,” has also been certified as urgent by the President to facilitate its swift congressional approval.
Under the budget bill, the government has proposed an initial P2.5 billion for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.
The special session was called by the President in the wake of the escalating leadership conflict between Speaker Alan Cayetano and Marinduque Rep. Lord Allan Velasco the House of Representatives threatened to disrupt the passage of the budget on time.
So far, Nograles assured the public that the government has made arrangements to “reserve” the country’s access to potential COVID vaccines.
He said the country is involved with the World Health Organization’s solidarity trial as well as the COVAX (COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access) facility, a global vaccine project to ensure equitable access for poor nations to the vaccines.
The government has also coordinated with those developing vaccines in Russia, China, and United States for the country’s access once the medicines become available, Nograles said.
“So all bases covered tayo kasi ang mangyayari dito nag-uunahan ang lahat, kung sino ang unang maka-produce ng vaccine. Kahit sino sa kanila ang mauna, naka-reserve na tayo (We have all bases covered because everyone is racing to be the first to produce the vaccine. So whoever becomes first, we have reserved our access),” he said.
“Mayroon na tayong kasunduan sa kanilang lahat — WHO, COVAX , Russia, China, lahat iyan may kasunduan na pag nauna sila, meron na silang vaccine natapos na at safe na, ay isa tayo sa mga bansa na magkakaroon ng access (We have an agreement with all of them — WHO, COVAX, Russia, China and others. We have an agreement that if the are first to develop a safe vaccine, we will be one of the countries that will have access to it),” he said.