BARMM sets aside P500M, Zamboanga City P200M for vaccines
ZAMBOANGA CITY—The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) has set aside P500 million to acquire vaccines for its people.
The Zamboanga City government has also allocated P200 million for the same purpose.
Amirel S. Usman, BARMM acting health minister, said the allocation is part of the region’s P75.6 billion budget for 2021 that was approved by the interim parliament two weeks ago.
Usman said the autonomous region will wait for a directive from the Department of Health (DOH) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on what vaccine to use. But he said he personally preferred the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine which is now being used in the United States, United Kingdom and several other countries.
Pfizer had already sought emergency use authorization from the Philippine FDA.
Usman acknowledged that the fund the regional government set aside may not be enough to vaccinate everyone in the region though priority would be “those specified in the guidelines of the national government” led by health workers.
“Hopefully, the national government can supplement,” he added.
The BARMM has a population of about four million people.
Maguindanao Rep. Esmail Mangodadatu said he learned that each of the five provinces of the BARMM will receive 100 million pesos worth of vaccines.
Basilan Gov. Jim Salliman admitted that his province, which is largely dependent on its share of national revenues, has no financial capacity to acquire vaccines for his 400,000 constituents.
In Zamboanga City, Mayor Maria Isabelle Salazar, announced that the city is ready to purchase COVID-19 vaccines with an initial allocation of P200 million in the 2021 budget.
Salazar said the city government is closely coordinating with the National COVID-19 Task Force, headed by Secretary Carlito Galvez, for the acquisition of the vaccines.
“The budget of P200 million is ready,” said Zamboanga City information officer Sheila Belen Covarrubias. The city government, she added, was also awaiting a directive on what vaccine to purchase.
She said the number of people who would get the vaccines depended on the vaccine cost “but the target priorities are the vulnerable sector.”
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