Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday, August 29, asked the national government to sign documents that will allow local government units (LGUs) to procure their own COVID-19 vaccines amid criticisms by some local executives over the lack of vaccine supply to their provinces.
“Iyong pagdecentralize lang ng purchasing sana ipayag na nila (They should allow the decentralization of the purchasing),” she said on her Sunday radio show, BISErbisyong Leni.
The vice president has been hearing a lot of excuses from the national government over why they seemed to be slow in giving LGUs the support they need to procure the vaccines directly.
The first one, she cited, is because pharmaceutical companies would rather talk with the national government directly while the other is the Department of Health (DOH) wants to do “due diligence” with these contracts.
“Kapag ganito iyong mga rason, wala na tayong (When the reasons are like these, we have no) sense of urgency. Ngayon kailangan iyong bakuna (We need the vaccines now),” she said.
“Mabuti sana kung napoprovide lahat ng national government, ni walang necessity sa local governments na magsarili pero dahil hindi napoprovide iyong lahat, nagsasarili iyong mga local governments (It’s okay if the national government can provide everything, there’s no necessity for local governments to go on their own but they don’t provide everything, so local governments need to be on their own),” Robredo added.
“Sana hindi na pahirapan kasi ngayon iyon kailangan…pero pirmahan na para makahanap naman ng paraan (Hopefully, they don’t make it hard anymore…but they need to sign it, so [LGUs] can find ways),” she stressed.
Her reaction came after Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla appealed to the national government to allow LGUs to enter into agreements with vaccine manufacturers to import their own vaccine supply. He said this after airing his frustration over the delayed delivery of vaccines to his province.
Remulla said he already talked with National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon about it, but the latter said that the provision for the vaccine supply for the province is based on its capability to only vaccinate 4,000 a day.
The vice president said it’s okay for the national government to practice due diligence but not to the expense that the process will be delayed.
“Early this year pa yata nag-allocate ng mga pondo o last year pa iyong mga LGUs (pero) hanggang ngayon hindi pa napipirmahan. So, ano ang hinihintay? (the LGUs allocated funds or last year but until now, they haven’t signed them yet. So, what are they waiting for?),” Robredo asked.
Meanwhile, she also lamented the issues between the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) and private hospitals, a group of which said their members are considering disengaging from the state insurer over unpaid claims and the temporary suspension of payments allegedly to control claims fraud.
“Every hospital na nagkoclose, kawalan yan sa ating lahat. Kawalan ‘yang lahat at a time na grabe—sobrang hirap maghanap ng hospital ngayon (that closes, that’s a loss to us all. That’s a loss at a time that it’s very difficult to find a hospital today),” Robredo said.
The lady official noted the surge today was nothing like the surge in March to April this year because the COVID-19 cases seemed to be everywhere.
Robredo said that everyone should be “all hands on deck” instead of attending to other matters.
“Ito ‘yung problema ngayon nagkakamatayan na ‘yung mga kababayan natin…ang pinakamahalaga iyong buhay ng mga kababayan natin kaya eto ang asikasuhin natin (This is the problem right now, our fellowmen are dying…the most important is the lives of our fellowmen, so that’s what we need to focus on).”