Drilon asks gov’t for full accounting of budget for COVID-19 vaccines | Inquirer News

Drilon asks gov’t for full accounting of budget for COVID-19 vaccines

By: - Reporter / @deejayapINQ
/ 04:43 AM June 14, 2021



MANILA, Philippines — Ahead of a Senate inquiry on the national vaccination program, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Sunday asked the government to make a full accounting of the P82.5-billion COVID-19 budget before seeking more funds from Congress.

The opposition senator urged the government’s COVID-19 managers to be more transparent about the pricing of the vaccines in order to strengthen public confidence in the vaccine rollout, which he described as “usad pagong” (turtle-paced).


“The people need to know how much has been spent and where it was spent. There must be transparency in spending. This is the people’s money. We borrowed this money,” Drilon said in a radio interview.


“Transparency is critical in the success of the vaccination program,” he said, adding that it would help boost public confidence that public funds were spent correctly “especially as election approaches.”

“How many vaccines do we really need? How many have arrived so far? How many of these are donated? How many did the national government buy and at what price?” Is it the correct price?” Drilon said.

The Senate committee of the whole will open an inquiry on the National COVID-19 Vaccination Program on Tuesday, including the “utilization of the program’s budgetary provisions amounting to an aggregate amount of P82.5 billion.”

The 2021 General Appropriations Act earmarked P72.5 billion for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, but only P2.5 billion, out of the P72.5 billion, was funded.

The remaining P70 billion was placed in unprogrammed funds, which were to be secured mostly from loans and borrowings. Another P10 billion was earmarked for COVID-19 vaccines under the Bayanihan 2 law, bringing the total to P82.5 billion.

The government recently said it might need an additional P25 billion this year to buy more vaccines and another P55 billion next year for booster shots.


“We need the crucial information on the procurement side: what we’re buying, what brand, from whom, at what price and quantity,” Drilon said.

“The lack of transparency also contributes to the problem of vaccine hesitancy,” he added.

Drilon asked Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the COVID-19 task force, to provide the Senate a consolidated report on vaccine procurement by the national government, local governments and private sector.

He noted that as of May 31, only 5.2 million doses have been administered, of which 4 million people received the first dose, while 1.2 million completed the required two doses.

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“If the vaccination is too slow, our economic recovery would be slow, too. If our economic recovery is slow, then those who lost their jobs will not be able to return to work,” Drilon said.

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