Palace may let LGUs buy own vaccines
MANILA, Philippines — The country’s “vaccine czar,” Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., said Malacañang was considering whether to allow local government units (LGUs) to procure their own supply of COVID-19 vaccine.
“I have raised it [with] the President but we are considering what he has been saying that it should not be that some barangays or towns might be left behind because they [cannot] afford to buy the vaccine. That’s what we’ll look into because we don’t want to [commit] injustice to those people who cannot buy it,” Galvez said in Saturday’s online briefing.
He said the government might set a precondition of requiring local governments to give the vaccine first to medical front-liners, essential workers, as well as vulnerable and poor people.
“What we will do is to balance it. We can allow it provided that the [instructions] of our President to prioritize the poor, the health workers, our service [employees] and front-liners could be complied with,” Galvez said.
The Puerto Princesa City government earlier said it was ready to allot up to P100 million to buy vaccines for its residents.
Vice President Leni Robredo, meanwhile, urged government officials to focus on the vaccine issue, noting that Filipinos were becoming more anxious as other countries start inoculating their citizens against COVID-19.
“We need to exert extra effort in assuring people that the vaccines will arrive,” she said on Sunday.
Robredo noted that her sister-in-law, a doctor based in the United States, had already gotten vaccinated.
“When we see people in the [United Kingdom and United States] getting vaccines, and then there’s nothing here, it just adds to our worries,” she said.
Robredo, however, refused to play the blame game on who “dropped the ball” in the Philippines’ supposedly botched attempt to get COVID-19 vaccines from American pharmaceutical company Pfizer by January 2021.
Last week, Sen. Panfilo Lacson revealed that Health Secretary Francisco Duque III failed to submit one document, causing the Philippines to miss out on a chance to acquire 10 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine which eventually went to Singapore.
As netizens called for Duque’s head, Robredo said she has to first hear what both sides had to say.
“I don’t want to be unfair because I haven’t heard the entire story yet,” she said. INQ
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