The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) maintained Monday that the local government units (LGUs) may directly negotiate with any pharmaceutical firms for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.
In a press briefing, DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya however noted that the localities should confer first with the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 before making the purchase.
“Ang pakiusap lang po namin bago magpirmahan ay kailangan coordinated with the National Task Force COVID-19 particularly po si vaccine czar General Carlito Galvez (Our only request before they sign any agreement if for them to coordinate with the National Task Force COVID-19 particularly with vaccine czar General Carlito Galvez),’’ Malaya said.
Amidst criticisms over the supposed interference of the national government, Malaya stressed that proper coordination with the NTF is necessary to ensure the quality of the COVID-19 vaccines that will be purchased, monitor their
proper distribution and assure that only FDA (Food and Drugs Administration) approved vaccines enter the country.
On January 13, the DILG said Astra Zeneca’ is the preferred COVID-19 vaccine of most LGUs from the list of available vaccines presented by the NTF.
Malaya explained that the NTF laid out the vaccines currently available in the market and were provided with pertinent data which passed through the scrutiny of the Food and Drugs administration (FDA) that ensured its safety.
He noted that the LGUs were also briefed on the possible scheduled delivery dates of the vaccines.
Malaya added that the national government is not fully reliant with the LGUs since some of them may have insufficient funds to purchase the vaccine.
Under the 2021 budget, Malaya said that Congress has set aside a substantial amount for the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Gusto ko lang po emphasize na ito pong procurement ng mga LGUs ay augmentation lang po ito. Whether or not may pondo yung LGU meron po talagang national vaccination program ang ating pamahalaan. (I would like to emphasize that the procurement of the LGUs is for augmentation purposes only. Whether or not they have the funds the administration actually has a national vaccination program),’’ Malaya assured.
In guaranteeing its safety, Malaya assured that the administration will only roll-out the COVID-19 vaccine that passed through expert panels and certified by the FDA.
Even if the President wants to have all Filipinos vaccinated, Malaya explained that the frontliners, health workers and senior citizens will be prioritized in the vaccination.