BACOLOD CITY – The city government of Bacolod will be allocating P300 million for the procurement of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccines.
This was announced by Mayor Evelio Leonardia at a press briefing here, following the ceremonial signing of a multilateral agreement with AstraZeneca and national government agencies, and a confidentiality agreement with AstraZeneca at the Bacolod City Government Center on Thursday.
AstraZeneca is a multinational pharmaceutical company based in Cambridge, England, which has partnered with the University of Oxford in developing a vaccine against COVID-19.
“It is our policy, our belief, and our commitment that when the health and lives of our people are at stake, we will go for broke,” Leonardia said.
The mayor stressed that the city government was committed to providing its citizens with any duly approved vaccines that would be available in the market.
This was the reason why city officials are making all necessary efforts to raise the needed budget, according to Leonardia.
“We are willing to augment, to re-align, and to revert all items in our budget if the need arises,” Leonardia said, adding that they will be starting with the preparation of P300 million for the vaccines.
“We will make adjustments if necessary,” he said.
Leonardia was authorized by the City Council to contract with AstraZeneca to avail of the company’s vaccine in a special session held last Wednesday.
Prior to that, officials of League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) headed by Leonardia as national president and the LCP Committee on Vaccine Availment, chaired by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, met with top officials of AstraZeneca in a virtual dialog.
Taking this “major step” further, Leonardia also wrote the council on Thursday to give him continuing authorization to enter into contracts with other pharmaceutical companies legally operating in the Philippines which can provide COVID-19 vaccines duly approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
According to the mayor, he made the letter-request because time was essential in procuring the vaccine.
“We are very serious. We have to move fast and act fast,” he stressed, adding that he will not allow the people of Bacolod to be left out come the time the vaccines are already available.
Leonardia said that the City Health Office and the COVID-19 Vaccination (CoVac) Council have started drafting the list of persons who shall be vaccinated first in Bacolod.
The list will be finalized in accordance with the guidelines set by the Department of Health and the National Inter-Agency Task Force Against COVID-19 for identifying the priority sectors in mass vaccination.
Leonardia clarified that local government units (LGUs) cannot independently procure COVID-19 vaccines without clearance from the national government.
In his letter to the SP, he said: “The availability of the COVID-19 vaccine is limited, and considering the massive nationwide demand for it, we are bound to encounter problems in its timely availment if we do not act now to ensure that we are on the list of LGUs which are ready to avail of any vaccine supply that the national government shall be able to procure under existing policies and procedures, and subject to adjustments that the national government may eventually adopt thereon.”