With billions in loans, Lacson asks: 'Nasaan ka bakuna?' | Inquirer News
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With billions in loans, Lacson asks: ‘Nasaan ka bakuna?’

/ 09:24 AM March 18, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Nasaan ka bakuna? (Where are the vaccines?)

This was the question posed by Senator Panfilo Lacson as he cited the P126.75-billion government funding for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, a bulk of which is from approved loans sourced from multilateral lenders.

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In a tweet, Lacson enumerated the supposed approved loans from the World Bank (WB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) from April last year to March 2021 to finance the country’s purchase of vaccines.

Lacson also noted that the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act provides for P10-billion funding under the Department of Health (DOH) for the same purpose.

RELATED STORY:

DBM: P10B for vaccines already released to DOH in February

The total budget of the Philippine government for vaccine procurement, according to Lacson, so far amounts to P126.75 billion.

“NASAAN KA BAKUNA?” he said in his tweet.

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‘We might all die waiting’

Asked what he thinks could be the reason why the government-procured vaccines have yet to arrive, Lacson said: “[T]he problem lies with the concerned agencies in charge.”

“[Finance] Sec. [Carlos] Dominguez as early as last year kept repeating that there’s money available. In fairness to DOF (Department of Finance), they already anticipated the ‘crowding’ for loans so they already booked to get ahead of the rush,” he told INQUIRER.net in a message.

“That being said, the problem lies with the concerned agencies in charge. Even the private sector and eventually the [local government units], not having the patience to wait for government action, took it upon themselves to procure vaccines for their employees, even offering 50% of their vaccine purchases to the government,” he added.

As of February, LGUs and the private sector have secured a total of 17 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines through the signing of tripartite deals with the national government.

“Instead of treating them as partners and assisting them, [the] government regulated and controlled everything by requiring them to go through government procurement,” Lacson went on.

Meanwhile, the senator expressed both hopes and doubts that the country’s health authorities “have a sound analysis and assessment” on the sudden spike of Covid-19 cases in the country.

“The thing is, how can we have a solution when we don’t know the cause of [the] problem?” he said.

“Unless some drastic and innovative steps are undertaken, we might all die waiting,” he added.

For its initial vaccination rollout, the Philippines is currently using donated vaccines from the Chinese government and the COVAX facility, a global vaccine sharing pool led by the World Health Organization.

The country kicked off its vaccination drive on Mar. 1 following the arrival of 600,000 doses of the CoronaVac vaccine from Sinovac Biotech which were donated by the Chinese government

On March 4, 487,200 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine from British-Swede firm AstraZeneca arrived in the country through the COVAX facility. This was followed by another set of 38,400 doses that arrived on March 7.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said that the Philippine government has already secured 108 million doses of vaccines from different manufacturers through signed term sheets, which indicate that supplies have already been “locked-in” for the country.

RELATED STORY:

Duterte administration relentless in acquiring COVID-19 vaccines – Galvez

/MUF

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TAGS: COVID-19 Vaccine, Foreign loans, Nation, News, Senator Panfilo Lacson
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