Galvez asked: Is nat'l gov't holding back jab deals to hog the glory for rollout? | Inquirer News
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Galvez asked: Is nat’l gov’t holding back jab deals to hog the glory for rollout?

/ 07:30 PM August 25, 2021
Galvez asked: Is nat'l gov't holding back jab deals to hog the glory for rollout?

The latest batch of one million doses of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine arrive via a Cebu Pacific flight at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport on Thursday, June 10, 2021. (Photo courtesy of National Task Force against COVID-19)

MANILA, Philippines — Is the national government “holding back” multi-party vaccine deals of local governments and private firms to claim the glory for the COVID-19 vaccination program?

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During Wednesday’s Senate blue ribbon committee hearing, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri posed this question, saying this was one of the concerns locally elected officials (LGUs) raised.

The senator earlier sought an explanation from the national government for the hanging requests of 42 LGUs and about 300 private companies to procure a total of 10 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.

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READ: Galvez explains reasons why LGUs, private sector deals for 10M vax still hanging

“May mga issue na binabato sakin Secretary na baka pa-pogi lang ito ng gobyerno na gusto ng gobyerno sila lang magbigay ng bakuna, wala nang ibang makapagpasok ng bakuna para sa ganun ay pagdating sa halalan, masabi lang ng gobyerno kami ang nagbakuna sa inyo at wala ng iba? Hindi naman ganun?” Zubiri asked.

(Some issues are being thrown at me, secretary, it may just be pogi (brownie points) that the government just wants them to give the vaccine, and anyone else can’t do it so that at election time, the government can claim it vaccinated you and not anyone else? Isn’t that so?)

Vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr., however, denied that it was the case.

“Hindi naman ganun…Ang interest po namin is really not [that]. Kasi ang mangyayari po ang LGU po natin, kasi o-order sa COVAXIN, mako-COA (Commission on Audit) po talaga sila, talagang mako-COA sila kasi pinakita po natin unang una, ‘di po sigurado ang supply, wala pong indicative,” Galvez told senators.

(That’s not the case… Our interest is really not [that]. As for what will happen to our LGU, because if you order from COVAXIN, they will really be COA (Commission on Audit), they will really be scrutinized by COA…, ‘the supply is not sure, there is no indicative.)

‘Complicated, too messy’

During the hearing, the vaccine czar also reiterated why the multi-party agreements (MPA) for local governments and private sector purchases for a total of 10 million doses have either been put on hold or have not been signed.

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“On the issues that we are holding the tripartite agreement, we want to issue a clarification to the public that it’s not desired to put on hold the tripartite agreement, but the manufacturers are not interested anymore for multi-party [agreement] because it has become complicated and the coordination is too messy,” he said.

In the case of Sinovac, Pfizer and Sputnik, Galvez said that these vaccine developers intend to prioritize orders from the national government given the current shortage.

“Moderna and AstraZeneca are no longer accepting vaccine orders for the Wave 1 through the MPAs for the time being,” he added.

“Johnson & Johnson and Sinopharm are currently not open to MPA as provided under R.A. 11525 (COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021),” Galvez further said.

Enough supply for all regions

Nevertheless, Galvez assured the senator that the national government would distribute “the majority of the volumes in millions” equitably among the different areas so that “all provinces and all regions will receive their share.”

Zubiri responded that this is what local government units would want to hear.

“There are LGUs waiting in line; they want to find out [whether they’ll be given vaccines or not], if it’s in trickles or not because they’re trying to order,” the senator said.

“So what you’re trying to tell us is [we have vaccines from the government]?” he asked. Galvez answered in the affirmative.

So far, the government has administered a total of 30,693,019 doses of COVID-19 vaccines since the vaccination drive started in March.

READ: COVID-19 vaccinations now over 30 million – Galvez

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TAGS: COVID-19, Nation, News, Senate, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri, Vaccination, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr.
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