President Duterte has named COVID-19 National Task Force (NTF) chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. as the vaccine czar who will lead the government’s acquisition and distribution of vaccines for the deadly respiratory disease.
Duterte made the announcement during the situation briefing on the effects of Typhoon “Rolly” in Malacañang Monday evening.
According to the President, he chose Galvez, who is also the presidential adviser on the peace process, to become the vaccine czar because he trusts his abilities.
“Pagbili (The acquisition), the negotiation, manufacture, production, or distribution [of the vaccines], binigay ko ‘yan kay (I assigned that to) Secretary Galvez. So only Secretary Galvez is authorized to negotiate or whatever,” he said.
“I have great faith in Charlie to really come up with the solutions for the problem,” he added.
The President explained that he decided to name a vaccine czar because it would take the government a long time to acquire vaccines if a committee will take charge of it.
“As I said earlier during the start of COVID, I only want one line of authority coming from dito sa (here in the) Task Force,” Duterte said.
“Isa lang. Ayaw ko ‘yang committee-committee. Matagal ‘yan. (I only want one person. I don’t like those committees. It will only take us a long time),” he added.
In a text message, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque confirmed that President Duterte had named Galvez as the vaccine czar for a while now.
“Matagal na yun. Inulit niya ngayon (He made that decision a long time ago. He just reiterated it) which was what Secretary Galvez wanted,” he said.
Roque said last month that the government had already discussed naming a vaccine czar and that President Duterte has already named one but it has not been official yet.
“The concept of a vaccine czar na tututok doon sa importation at doon sa (who will focus on the importation and) logistics has been discussed,” he said.
“In fact, two months ago, the President designated one kaya lang ayaw magpa-announce ng taong yun until the President reiterates na dinesignate nga siya (but this person doesn’t want it to be announced until the President reiterates that he has been designated),” he added.
In October, President Duterte assured the public that he has already found the money to buy COVID-19 vaccines. According to Malacañang, an initial 20 million Filipinos will get the vaccine for free.
Roque said last month that the estimated price for a vaccine is US$10 per dose. An individual should have two doses of the vaccine.
He added that if the vaccine will be available this year, the government would have to borrow from the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines to buy them.
However, if it would be released next year, the funds for the vaccine will be taken from the proposed P4.5-trillion 2021 national budget.