Gov’t sets aside P82.5 B for vaccine acquisition, logistics

Published January 14, 2021, 7:55 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government has set aside P82.5 billion for vaccine acquisition, logistics, and other supplies needed for distribution, President Duterte announced Wednesday night even as the country is trailing behind wealthy nations in the purchase.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on January 13, 2021.

Of the total amount, the President said P70 billion would be used for the procurement of the vaccines. The funds will be sourced from foreign, multilateral, and bilateral loans as well as domestic borrowings.

Another P10 billion would be charged against the Bayanihan 2 law while P2.5 billion will be sourced from the Department of Health’s 2021 budget for logistics and other supplies.

“Lahat-lahat mayroon tayong 82.5 billion para sa COVID (All in all, we have P82.5 billion for COVID vaccines)…Palagay ko sapat na ‘yan (I think that is sufficient),” Duterte said in a televised address.

In procuring the vaccines against the coronavirus, Duterte said the government has the obligation to take care of Filipinos. He said millions of vaccines are being purchased to cover the country’s population, initially health workers, the poor and vulnerable sector, and uniformed personnel.

“Ngayon, kung mayroong mga tao na ayaw, eh ‘di mas mabuti mauna natin ‘yung gusto, at we can tone down the orders kung sobra-sobra na (If there are people who refuse the vaccines, that’s better so we can vaccinate those who want it and we can tone down the orders if there will be surplus),” he said.

Under the vaccination plan, Duterte said health frontliners will be vaccinated first, followed by the poor and vulnerable sector, frontliners and essential public and private workers including OFW, low-income earners, and seafarers.

The government has so far secured 30 million vaccine doses developed by the Serum Institute of India, in addition to the 25 million doses from China’s Sinovac Biotech. A supply deal for more or less 17 million doses from AstraZeneca is expected to be inked Thursday. Negotiations are underway to get supplies from other vaccine manufacturers. The supplies are expected to start arriving next month.

The President admitted that the country was at the “tail end” of the line for the coronavirus vaccines, after rich nations have cornered the supply of the drug. He has attributed to the law of supply and demand the delay in the government’s acquisition of vaccines.

He said even as the government has gathered its funding resources, it still has to wait for the remaining stocks of the vaccines.

“Now that we have the money, we have ordered, pero at the tail end tayo — buntot na tayo maghintay (we’re at the tail end, waiting for the supply),” he said.

He claimed that the vaccine purchase was about being the “highest bidder.”

“Iyong lahat ng lumabas ngayon, puro sa Amerikano ‘yan, puro sa Europeans. Wala pa tayo pati ang Asia (The supplies have been taken by the Americans, Europeans. We don’t have it yet, even Asia),” he said.

“So iyong may pera, nauuna talaga mabigyan. Pera-pera lang itong buhay na ito eh maski na sabihin mong COVID (So the rich will really get the supply first. It’s all about money in this life, even if there’s COVID),” he added.