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Enough funds for minorsâ vaccination â Lacson
Sen. Panfilo Lacson cited updated figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) indicating only P30.462 billion may be needed to inoculate 68.2 million adult Filipinos this year.
The STAR/Edd Gumban

Enough funds for minors’ vaccination – Lacson

Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - June 19, 2021 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The P57.3 billion secured as loan by the government for the procurement of vaccines is enough to cover the P25-billion requirement for the vaccination of minors next year, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said yesterday.

Lacson cited updated figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) indicating only P30.462 billion may be needed to inoculate 68.2 million adult Filipinos this year.

He said figures from the PSA as of March 28 this year showed the Philippines’ midyear population will reach 110,198,654 by July 1, with 62 percent or 68.323 million being adults.

“If we multiply this by P446 per dose, including logistical costs, we will need about P30.472 billion to inoculate our adult Filipinos. Thus the difference of P26.83 billion is more than enough to cover the P25-billion requirement to procure the vaccines for our minors,” Lacson said.

“Based on these figures, we may not need to look for an additional P25 billion since it is amply covered by the ‘excess’ in borrowings,” he said.

The senator bared his computations following the Senate committee of the whole inquiry on Tuesday into the Duterte administration’s justification for its request for an additional P25 billion to inoculate children 12 years old and above.

The total additional funding sought by the administration for next year would be P85 billion or almost the same as the current vaccine budget of P88.6 billion.

At the hearing, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said that of the P88.6-billion budget for vaccine procurement, P57.3 billion was sourced through concessional loans from multilateral partners like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.

Lacson noted that even if the government were to inoculate 83.8 million adults based on the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF)’s figures – at P446 per dose including logistical requirements – it would only need P37.374 billion or still way below the P57.3 billion in borrowings.

On the other hand, he pointed out that vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. had stated that 68 million doses of vaccines were free, including 44 million from the COVAX Facility and 24 million from two brands.

“Every peso counts and must be accounted for, especially during these difficult times. That said, the IATF and DOF (Department of Finance) should further clarify the figures that they presented during last Tuesday’s committee of the whole hearing,” Lacson said.

Also during the hearing, Lacson and Senate President Vicente Sotto III agreed that with more than enough funds to achieve herd immunity for this year, the government should focus more on ensuring the efficient rollout of vaccines.

Lacson said the Senate would also scrutinize agencies’ requests for additional budgets against the pandemic, including an additional P66 billion being requested by the Department of Health for pandemic response.

“First, they will have to account for P660.1 billion which, according to the Department of Budget and Management, has been released to the agencies concerned for the overall COVID-19 response over the last 15 months or so,” he said.

“During these times when the country is almost neck-deep in debt with an unprecedented P11 trillion in foreign and domestic borrowings, not to mention an alarmingly low revenue collection, every peso that comes from the treasury should count and made sure to be put to good use,” he added.

Lacson also said the government should all the more do a “good job” of promoting trust in the vaccination process and maximizing limited resources to do so, after Australia’s commitment to provide P480.2 million to procure additional COVID-19 vaccine jabs.

“We are very thankful to Australia for its gesture, which will go a long way for us Filipinos to ‘get the jab done’ and be vaccinated from COVID-19. But more importantly, this should be an added motivation for the government to ‘get the job done’ by maximizing the use of our limited resources to promote public trust in the vaccination process. This includes using our resources wisely by getting the most accurate facts and figures possible,” he said.

On Thursday, Australian Ambassador Steven Robinson said his country has an added commitment of A$13.72 million (P480.2 million) for the Philippines to buy vaccines. He said this new commitment is in addition to Australia’s support through the COVAX Facility, to which Australia has contributed A$130 million. He added the Philippines has received 5,025,870 doses from COVAX.

The ambassador also said Australia’s Vaccine Response Plan for the Philippines has provided A$7.52 million in vaccine delivery support through UNICEF and the World Health Organization.

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