Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri on Sunday disclosed that the Senate is planning to purchase COVID-19 vaccines for its employees and staff.
Zubiri said the Upper House is taking its cue from the House of Representatives which would be utilizing P50-million from its internal funds for the COVID-19 vaccination of its employees, staff, and five of their immediate family members, and members of the media covering the Lower House.
“Yes, nakuha natin ang idea sa (we got the idea from the) House of Representatives. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Ginagawa na yan ng LGUs (the local government units are already doing it too),” Zubiri said in an interview over Radio DZRH.
Zubiri said he suggested the same to Senate President Vicente Sotto III and the latter agreed with his proposal.
“Para makabalik din kami sa normal sa Senado. Kung nabakunahan na po ang kanilang staff at pamilya back to normal na kami. Pwede na kami mag face-to-face. Napakahirap kasi gumawa ng batas via Zoom; mahirap interventions pag online (So we can go back to normal in the Senate. If the staff and their family are vaccinated, we can go back to normal. We can conduct face-to-face hearings. It’s very hard to craft laws via Zoom. There are many interventions when you’re online),” the Senate Majority leader said.
“Tama rin sinabi n SP na there's proposal na makabili rin ang Senado. Dahil ang private sector nakaorder na. Ako nagsuggest nito kay SP if ordinary companies are getting vaccines bakit di kami (The Senate President was right with the proposal for the Senate to also procure for its own because those in the private sector have already ordered. I made the suggestion to him that if ordinary companies are getting vaccines, why can’t we?),” he pointed out.
While some government officials have frowned on the idea of allowing LGUs to buy COVID-19 vaccines for their respective constituents, the senator said no one could question their motive since the national task force against COVID-19 still has no clear policy direction to provide solutions to their woes.
“Wala tayo magagawa kailangan nila gumalaw dahil wala tayong clear policy para mabigyan solusyon ang kaba ng LGU (We can’t do anything. They need to do something because we have no clear policy to solve the anxiety of the LGUs),” he noted.
“Kung tatanungin mo ako dyan (If you ask me) let’s do a parallel move. Tuloy-tuloy pagplano ng gobyerno sa pagpasok ng bakuna para maibigay nila ng libre. Walang problema dyan meron tayo P72-billion para dyan. Kung gusto ng private sector halimbawa, Red Cross kung gusto nila magpapasok, allow us to do so kasi meron din kami chapters pwede rin tayo maglagay rollout program. It’s similar sa (COVID) testing (The government can pursue its plan to procure vaccines so they can give it for free. There’s no problem with that, we have P72-billion for that. If the private sector, like the Philippine Red Cross also wants to procure its own COVID vaccines, allow us to do so, because we also have chapters and we can rollout the program, similar to our COVID testing),” said Zubiri who is vice chairman of the PRC.
Asked how much money the Senate will allot for the procurement of its own COVID-19 vaccines, the senator said they would still have to ask Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who chairs the Senate Committee on Accounts.