Robredo urges gov’t to prepare for immunization drive too
MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo has urged the government to prepare for other things concerning the COVID-19 vaccination — like logistical issues — as it is not enough to merely await for the vaccine.
Robredo noted that funding separate from the allocated budget for the purchase of the vaccine is needed for other issues that the government may encounter, like the delivery of these vials, the administration of it by health workers, and other aspects.
“Sang-ayon tayo na mahalaga ang bakuna, kaya nga hindi sapat na abangan lang ito. Ngayon pa lang, kailangan nang paghandaan kung paano isasagawa ang malawakang deployment kapag nadevelop na ito,” she said during her latest public address on Monday.
(We agree that the vaccine is important, which is why it is not enough to simply wait for it. As early as now, we have to prepare for its massive deployment once it’s developed.)
“Hindi birong tungkulin ang agarang pagbabakuna sa milyon-milyong Pilipino—kailangan ng plano, imprastruktura, at mekanismo, na hangga’t maaari ay maibaba sa antas ng mga Barangay Health Unit. Siyempre, kailangan din nito ng pondo,” she added.
(Administering a vaccine to millions of Filipinos is no easy task—we need to have a plan, the infrastructure, and a mechanism, that as much as possible can be downloaded to the level of Barangay Health Units. Of course, funds will also be needed.)
This is not the first time that Robredo pointed out that waiting for vaccines may not be enough. When President Rodrigo Duterte sarcastically invited her to spray pesticide over the country to prove his point that vaccines are the end-all solution, she highlighted that several countries have fought the pandemic without vaccines.
Robredo also asked whether the allocation that the Department of Health (DOH) received for the 2021 budget is enough to cover the whole population, as the agency has only set aside P2.4 billion in the 2021 budget for the vaccines — a far cry from its P12.9 billion projected expenses for the said vials.
“Nakalaan sa budget ng susunod na taon ang 2.5 billion pesos para sa bakuna. Ayon sa DOH, sapat lamang ito para sa 3.8 milyong katao. Paano na lang iyong naiwang halos isang daang million? Ngayon pa lang, kailangan nang tutukan at paghandaan ang mga pangangailangang pinansyal at iba pa para sa bakuna,” she stressed.
(The budget for next year allots P2.5 billion for the vaccine. According to the DOH, this will only be enough for 3.8 million people. What about the rest of the 100 million? As early as now, we need to focus and prepare for the financial and other needs for the vaccine.)
Robredo made other recommendations in her address, talking about setting goals about minimizing the rate of coronavirus transmissions in the country, extending more help to the local government units especially those with a high number of COVID-19 cases, helping small businesses, and mix-matching work for jobless Filipinos.
She claimed that some of these problems, especially helping small businesses and finding jobs for those who lost theirs during the pandemic, is already being tackled by the Office of the Vice President.
They would be willing to share the ins and outs of their strategy, she said, to the national government should the latter ask for it.
“Ang ilan sa mga mungkahing ito ay sinubukan na naming gawin sa abot ng makakaya ng ating Tanggapan: Ang patuloy na distribution ng mga PPE set na gawa ng mga lokal na mananahi, na napondohan sa tulong ng mga private donors at partners; Ang Bayanihan E-skwela, na lumikha ng mga how-to videos para sa teachers at parents sa tulong ng mga education experts at mga volunteer creatives at celebrities,” she said.
(Some of these recommendations are already being implemented by our Office to the extent that our resources allow: The distribution of PPE sets made by local sewing communities, funded with the help of private donors and partners; the Bayanihan E-Skwela, that has produced how-to videos for teachers and parents, with the help of education experts, volunteer creatives, and celebrities.)
“Naglunsad din tayo kamakailan ng teacher training para sa online teaching at modular distance learning. Mayroon ding Community Mart—isang app na nagtutulay sa mga tindera sa palengke, mga tricycle drivers, at mamimili sa isa’t isa. Ilan lang ito sa mga halimbawa ng mga pagkilos na sinusubukang palakasin ang kabuoang efforts laban sa COVID-19,” she added.
(Recently, we also launched teacher trainings for online teaching and modular distance learning. We also have Community Mart—an app linking market vendors, tricycle drivers, and customers to each other. These are just some of the initiatives that we have been doing to strengthen the collective effort against COVID-19.)
Earlier, Robredo clarified that she and her office have no intentions of undermining the government, because she believes that the failure of the government would impact a lot of Filipinos badly.
This clarification came after she was slammed by administration supporters for allegedly over-criticizing the government, as Duterte himself implied that the she has pointed out things whether they do something or not.
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