Senators on Thursday lamented how the Philippines is still scrambling to secure COVID-19 vaccine supplies and is lagging behind several countries in its vaccination plans.
Senator Nancy Binay said she is disappointed that at this point the only thing that is certain is that the Philippines still has to wait for vaccines supplies to arrive in its ports, despite the series of dry runs the government task force for COVID-19 has already done.
“Parang at this point, ang sigurado lang ay hindi sigurado kung kelan dadating yung bakuna (at this point, it seems what is certain is that it is uncertain when the vaccines will arrive),” Binay said in an interview over ANC’s Headstart.
On the other hand, she said, Congress has been doing its best to respond to the request of the government’s task force in order to expedite the roll out of the vaccination program.
“I think we’ve proven within ourselves na kapag may hiniling ang (that whenever there is a request from the) executive department, we deliver.
“You can see that when we passed Bayanihan 1 and 2, yung FIST—anything that would help us recover from this pandemic. Mabilis pa kami sa alas-singko na magta-trabaho (we go to work immediately),” she said of the two COVID-related laws and the Financial Institutions Strategic Transfer Act which provides insulation against shocks to the Philippine banking sector.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, during the Senate’s session on Wednesday, also expressed fears, pointed out many are still baffled by the country’s current situation as countries like Singapore, Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar have already started rolling out COVID-19 jabs.
“Bakit tayo hanggang ngayon, wala pa rin? (Why is it that until now we still have nothing?)” Drilon pointed out.
“Each day we fail to start the vaccination raises the risk of further spread of the virus and makes our economic recovery longer,” he lamented.
Drilon noted the government has not signed any supply agreement for COVID-19 vaccines. This, he said, would pose as a great risk apart from Filipinos’ lack of confidence in the vaccines themselves.
Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Wednesday said supply agreements for the Philippines’ procurement of COVID-19 vaccines may be signed by the end of February.
Angara made the remark when he defended Senate Bill No. 2057 that seeks to expedite the purchase and administration of the vaccines and establishing a P500-million indemnification fund.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. had earlier said the government is still finalizing the supply agreement with manufacturers Sinovac, Novavax and Moderna. Galvez has been prodding Congress to pass an indemnification law, which he said is required by the COVAX facility. COVAX is a globally-pooled vaccine procurement and distribution effort to ensure fair and safe distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.