Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, said Friday that the government has laid out all the plans, including the budget allocation, for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines for millions of Filipinos once it becomes available in the country.
Galvez was asked about the government’s contingency plans after it was bared that only P2.5 billion were alloted in the 2021 national budget for the purchase of vaccines.
“Napag-usapan na namin sa gabinete ‘yan na mayroon nang strategy si DoF (Department of Finance) sa payments and preparations ng vaccines (We already talked about it in the Cabinet (meetings) and the Department of Finance has prepared a strategy for the payments and preparations of the vaccines),” Galvez said during the launching of the McDonald’s “M Safe” campaign which aims to test 20,000 of its employees and 1,000 tricycle drivers in Pasig City.
Aside from the budget allocation, the government has also prepared the supply chain and cold chain storage of the vaccine to preserve its potency, and other collateral expenses that may be needed, he added.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III had earlier said that the government will need approximately P20 billion to buy doses of vaccine for 20 million Filipinos if it is made available by the first or second quarter of 2021.
The DoF reportedly made initial plans to loan the amount from the Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP) or the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP).
“The Department of Finance has prepared how we could procure, deliver, and distribute and the Department of Health also has a program with the Department of Science and Technology sa (in the) distribution,” he said.
Last Wednesday, President Duterte said in a public address that the government has enough funds to buy the vaccines but noted that there is a need for more money to inoculate all 113 million Filipinos.
“I have the money already for the vaccine but hahanap pa ako ng maraming pera (I will look for more money). You know, there are now 113 million Filipinos and, to me, ideally, all should have the vaccine. Without exception,” Duterte had said.
The President said the poorest of the poor, the police, and military will be given priority once the vaccines arrive in the country.