Gov't needs P90B to buy vaccines in 2022, pandemic czars tell senators | Inquirer News
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Gov’t needs P90B to buy vaccines in 2022, pandemic czars tell senators

/ 09:50 AM May 07, 2021
Sputnik V vaccination in Parañaque City on My 4, 2021

Sputnik V vaccination in Parañaque City on My 4, 2021. Image from Facebook/Parañaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez

MANILA, Philippines — The government will be needing P90 billion next year for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, the country’s pandemic czars told the Senate leadership in a meeting Thursday night.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Panfilo Lacson held a meeting with vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., testing czar Vince Dizon and contact tracing czar Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong.

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Thursday night’s meeting was disclosed by Lacson in a tweet Friday.

Lacson told INQUIRER.net that among the points raised by Dizon, Galvez, and Magalong during the meeting is the need for the inclusion of a P90-billion vaccine procurement fund in the 2022 budget.

“They will need P90 [billion] for next year’s vaccine procurement budget to be included in the Regular Budget of DOH (Department of Health) to be itemized for vaccines,  instead of putting it under the Unprogrammed Fund in order to ensure its availability,” the senator said.

The pandemic czars also told the two senators, according to Lacson, that P20 billion is also needed this year under the proposed Bayanihan 3 for the purchase of vaccines.

“That’s their request but I told them to check with [Department of Budget and Management] first if the amount could be sourced from realignments from other executive agencies with still unused appropriations before we consider to include it in Bayanihan 3,” he added.

Several bills have been filed in Congress seeking a third Bayanihan measure that aims to aid Filipinos and revive the country’s economy amid the pandemic.

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In the House of Representatives, Speaker Lord Allan Velasco said the lower chamber will expedite the approval of the bill. Meanwhile, there are at least two similar measures filed in the Senate.

The pandemic czars also told the two senators, according to Lacson, that P20 billion is also needed this year under the proposed Bayanihan 3.

“I suggested to try first to be realigned from the unused appropriations of several executive agencies as it is allowed under the Constitution as well as the extended effectivity of the Bayanihan law already passed,” Lacson said.

The senators and the pandemic czars likewise discussed “immediate legislative action” to rid the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of “red tape,” which is “hampering” the government’s pandemic efforts.

/MUF

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TAGS: 2022 budget, COVID-19, Nation, News, pandemic czars, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senator Panfilo Lacson, vaccine procurement
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