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Kuya Bong calls for unified effort to expedite COVID-19 vaccine procurement




Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has called for a unified effort to expedite the COVID-19 vaccine procurement and effectively implement the vaccine roadmap.

Go also urged government officials to work together to allay fears, erase doubts, and build confidence of the public on the vaccine roll-out towards recovery.

“As we move forward, I continue to appeal to our leaders — our President, our Senate President, as well as other elected and appointed officials — for the sake of the country, for the sake of the poor Filipino people, magkaisa po tayo para hindi na maantala ang rollout ng vaccines at makabalik na tayong lahat sa normal na pamumuhay,” Go said.

“Nakiusap na rin lang ako sa lahat — alang-alang sa kapakanan ng lahat ng mga Pilipino, na magkaisa na tayo. Iisa lang naman ang hangarin natin at iyan ang malampasan ang pandemya at maiahon ang ating mga kababayan mula sa kahirapan,” Go added.

He also commended President Rodrigo Duterte for issuing a memorandum granting Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, and Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. special authority to sign vaccine supply agreements and documents on cost-sharing contributions to the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access (COVAX) Facility.

According to Go, the special authority will allow for a more efficient, effective, and expedited implementation of the comprehensive vaccination program against COVID-19.

At the same time, Go stressed that this authority requires accountability and command responsibility from officials to ensure that sufficient vaccines, with approved safety and efficacy, and at the right price are acquired for all Filipinos while prioritizing poor and vulnerable sectors, as well as frontliners.

“We laud President Duterte for granting special authority to Secretaries Duque, Galvez, and Dominguez which will allow us to expedite the process of procuring safe and effective vaccines for the Filipino people,” Go said.

“Importante po na hindi ma-delay ang vaccine implementation ng ating gobyerno dahil napakatagal na po nag-aantay ang taumbayan. Ang ibang bansa po ay nag umpisa na magturok, pero tayo ay nasa kalagitnaan pa (ng negosasyon),” he added.

With the issuance of the authority, Duque, Dominguez, and Galvez, will be allowed to sign COVID-19 vaccine supply agreements and other related documents, and agreements on cost-sharing contributions to the COVAX Facility.

“Secretaries Dominguez, Duque and Galvez have sufficient authority to negotiate and sign contracts with private suppliers for purposes consistent with their respective mandates,” Go said.

The President also authorized designated representatives of the DOH, DOF and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to negotiate on behalf of the Philippine government, the supply agreements and other related documents.

Meanwhile, Go reminded the concerned agencies to ensure the timely acquisition and administration of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines once they become available.

“Ang kawawa po dito ay ang mahihirap nating kababayan, kaya sana po ay pabilisin natin ang proseso para hindi na po maantala ang vaccine rollout dahil may sinusunod po tayong vaccine roadmap,” he stressed.

Dispelling the doubts of the public, Go earlier assured that he and President Duterte, himself, will not allow vaccine procurement to be tainted with corruption.

“Si Pangulong Duterte mismo ay ‘di papayag na magkaroon ng korapsyon. Ako mismo, bilang Chair ng Senate Committee on Health, babantayan ko po ‘yan. Sa mga nasa executive, mga nagtatrabaho kay Pangulong Duterte, alam niyo po kapag naamoy ni Pangulong Duterte, naamoy lang niya na may korapsyon, ni utot ng korapsyon sa gobyerno, yayariin niya po talaga,” Go said.

The said authority is in support of the efficient, effective and expedited implementation of the comprehensive vaccination program. The National Vaccine Roadmap provides that the vaccine procurement process is aimed to be completed by the 1st quarter of 2021, so that distribution and immunization of priority sectors may begin by March 2021.