Cities want to buy own COVID-19 vaccines
ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — A five-member committee of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) will coordinate with national government agencies to determine and recommend courses of action that may enable the cities to purchase their own COVID-19 vaccines.
Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas, head of the LCP committee on the availment of vaccines, said they will discuss how cities with funds can procure vaccines for their constituents.
He said the committee has invited to an online meeting the officials of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, including Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenza (chair), Carlito Galvez Jr. (chief implementer) and Interior Secretary Eduardo Año (vice chair).
Treñas said they would also discuss how private companies could procure the vaccines for their employees.
Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia, LCP national president, created the committee of the 145-member LCP on Dec. 23 to coordinate with government agencies and task forces “with the view of determining and recommending the most appropriate courses of action to facilitate the availment of COVID-19 vaccines for cities.”
Leonardia asked the city mayors to submit recommendations on or before Jan. 8, 2021, when the committee is expected to present its report.
Aside from Treñas, Leonardia appointed as committee members Mayors Ronnel Rivera (General Santos City), Francis Anthony Garcia (Balanga City), Maria Isabelle “Beng” Climaco (Zamboanga City) and Ericson Singson (Candon City).
Leonardia, in his directive, said it was the collective concern of the cities to ensure early access to the COVID-19 vaccine.
Treñas said there was an urgent need to discuss the procurement of vaccines for each local government unit amid the distribution of vaccines in highly developed countries.
He said the procurement would be channeled through the national government.
“We are willing to help the national government protect our people through having our own funding in addition to what they will be giving us,” Treñas said in a statement.
“If we help each other, our fight against the pandemic will be much more effective,” he said.
Iloilo City has reserved P200 million while Cebu City has set aside P350 million to procure vaccines.
Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, national chair of the LCP, said that he was told by Galvez that the local governments may purchase the vaccines themselves provided that the transaction would be coursed through the national government to ensure, among others, that they would not purchase fake or adulterated vaccines from the black market.
Galvez also assured Labella that Cebu City was among the priority areas in the COVID-19 vaccination drive, the mayor said.Provincial governments like Pampanga also planned to buy their own vaccines.Pampanga is raising P300 million starting January 2021 to buy the coronavirus vaccine to protect the critical ranks of health workers, officials here said on Sunday.
Gov. Dennis Pineda said a campaign would be launched to pool resources for the vaccine, which would prioritize medical front-liners and workers in the province.
“We need to help each other to be able to buy an effective vaccine against COVID-19. We cannot rely solely on the national government to do the vaccination program,” Pineda said in a statement.
He urged mayors and members of legislative councils in the province’s 19 towns and three cities to appropriate funds and sacrice some projects “to prioritize further the health needs of our constituents.”
—Nestor Burgos Jr., Connie Fernandez-Brojan, Ador Vincent Mayol and Tonette Orejas