Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Thursday expressed his support for a Senate resolution allowing local government units (LGUs) to buy their own COVID-19 vaccines for their constituents.
With the guidance of the national government, Go said that this should expedite the process of procuring sufficient supply of safe and effective vaccines for all Filipinos.
“Ako po, sang-ayon ako roon. Kung saan pwedeng mapabilis, basta aprubado lang po ito ng FDA (Food and Drug Administration). Karamihan sa ating LGUs ay may sariling pondo. May mayayamang LGUs na may sariling pondo na naglaan na ng kanilang pondo,’’ Go said. (I agree with that. This will expedite the process as long as it is approved by the FDA. Most of our LGUs have their own funds. Some rich LGUs have already allocated their own funds for the purpose).
Go is chairman of the Senate Health and Demography Committee.
He said, however, that the limited supply in the world market may prove to be a challenge in procuring vaccines.
“Problema po ngayon ang supply dahil law of supply and demand po ‘yan, habang ang ibang bansa po ay bumibili ng vaccine na doble o more than their population pa po dahil may pera po sila,’’ he said. (Supply is a problem now because of the law of supply and demand. Some countries are buying vaccines more than their population because they have the money.)
“Matagal na po silang nakapag-downpayment, mga ilang buwan na po ang nakararaan dahil naninigurado po sila. Tayo, hindi pa tayo nakabayad. ‘Di pa nga napirmahan ang supply agreement eh, sangkatutak na pong away rito o pagdududa,’’ added. (They have already given a downpayment months back because they want to ensure that they get the vaccines. While in our case, we have not made any payment yet. There are a lot of quarrels and suspicions even before we could sign a supply agreement.)
Go appealed to the Executive and Legislative branches of the government for greater unity so the country can immediately procure its needed supply and start the rollout of the vaccination program.
He said he spoke with President Rodrigo Duterte and Senate President Vicente Sotto III on how to remove the doubts on the efforts being taken by the government to procure vaccines.
“Sabi ni Pangulong Duterte, inatasan niya po si Secretary Galvez na ipakita ang kasunduan kay SP Sotto para matapos na ang pagdududa at haka-haka na kasalukuyang tinatalakay sa Senado,’’ he added. (According to President Duterte, he has already instructed Secretary Galvez to show the agreement to Senate President Sotto to put an end to speculations that the Senate is now looking into.)
Go emphasized, however, that the government, through the efforts of Vaccine Czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., is also making sure that any disclosure of information would not adversely affect the ongoing negotiations with vaccine providers.
He explained that just like any other country, a standard process is being followed by the government to ensure that the country is able to acquire the right amount of vaccines with the right kind of safety and efficacy, and at the right price.
Go said that as a legislator, the Senate also wants to assure the public that there will be transparency in the procurement of vaccines.
To dispel the doubts of the public, Go also assured that he and President Duterte would not allow vaccine procurement to be tainted with corruption.
He said that aside from securing sufficient supply, the safety and efficacy of these vaccines are also being considered in the process to build confidence and allay the fears of the public.
“Kaya nga po sabi ko kay Sec. Galvez na kapag may dumating na vaccine dito unahin siya, not because uunahin ang government officials, but to gain confidence po para sa taumbayan na magtiwala sila sa vaccine na binili ng gobyerno,’’ he added. (This is why Secretary Galvez said that once the vaccine is here, he wants to be the first to be injected, not because that government officials are prioritized, but to gain confidence for the public to trust the vaccine that was procured by the government.)