‘What’s the game plan?’ Senate to look into gov’t COVID vaccination program
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate constituted itself into the Committee of the Whole to look into the executive department’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.
During Monday’s plenary session, Senator Francis Pangilinan called for the Committee of the Whole hearing through a Senate Resolution No. 594 as he underscored the country’s need for “clear and concrete action steps and deliverables in a vaccination program that our citizens can trust and believe in.”
“The fact that senators are pretty much in the dark as to the game plan does not bode well for transparency and accountability in the vaccine rollout,” Pangilinan said in a privilege speech.
“Transparency in the process is key if there is to be public trust in a rollout and without the public’s trust, a program of this magnitude will not succeed,” he added.
He recalled that during a Senate session on Wednesday, the same day the proposed 2021 budget was ratified, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and Senator Richard Gordon “asked a series of pointed questions on the P72.5-billion budget allocation for the purchase of COVID vaccines and the government’s rollout plan.”
‘What is the game plan’
“How safe are the vaccines? How much funds will be needed to vaccinate 70 percent of the population as the World Health Organization recommendation to address herd immunity? Will we need a supplemental budget to fund this? Is there a timetable to complete the vaccination of 70 percent of the population?” Pangilinan said, referring to the questions raised by the senators.
“How many will be vaccinated with the 2021 budget of 72.5 billion pesos? When will the vaccination begin? How will it be rolled out? Who will be vaccinated first? How will they be vaccinated and by whom? Do we have the logistical capacity to ensure an effective delivery of the vaccines to the grassroots? What is the game plan?” he went on.
In his resolution, Pangilinan said the inquiry on the COVID-19 vaccinate program requires the convening of the Committee of the Whole since it would cover “a complex number of issues such as funding, country-to-country negotiations, logistical support, private sector mobilization, including digital infrastructure and sophisticated transport systems, and public health concerns, among others.”
Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, who chairs the Senate Committee on Rules where Pangilinan’s resolution was referred to, moved to constitute the Senate into a Committee of the Whole.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III was then given authority to schedule the date of the hearing.
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