Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr. assured the public of the availability of funds for the procurement of COVID vaccines.
“Paulit-ulit na po sinabi natin yan na tayo po ay makakautang na sa multilateral sources, sa bilateral sources para po sa P72.5-Billion na kakailanganin,” said Secretary Roque during a press briefing held on December 14.
The Palace official stressed that all of the P72.5-Billion is included in the national budget even if the rest of the amount will still have to be loaned because the whole amount needs to be reflected in the budget for it to be spent. “Kinakailangan nasa budget otherwise hindi magagastos maski ang panggagalingan ay uutangin,” Sec. Roque underscored.
“Maski wala pang revenue source eh mayroon naman po kasing plano talaga na pagkunan at ito nga po yung ADB [and] lending facilities,” Sec Roque affirmed.
To ensure transparency in accessing funds for the vaccine, Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. explained that the Asian Development Bank (ADB) will act as the fund manager and fund procurement agency. This means that procurement of the vaccines will be through a multilateral system, said Sec Galvez, who further pointed out that the Philippines needs to close negotiations with advance market commitments this December and January next year.
Otherwise, Sec Galvez said that if we wait for the allotted 2021 budget for the procurement of the vaccines, then the Philippines will be on the tail end of the vaccine supply chain.
Galvez further explained that what the government will use in its initial vaccine procurement is the $1-Billion that Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez allocated for the vaccines back in July upon the instruction of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.
Galvez said that the money will come from the ADB plus funds from the Development Bank of the Philippines, Landbank of the Philippines, and from government-owned and controlled corporations.
Aside from assuring the availability of funds, the Palace also assured that the Philippines will be able to have its share of COVID vaccines as the President has been strongly advocating for the equitable and universal access to vaccines. This has been the reason why many countries including Australia, China, Russia, among other countries with strong diplomatic ties to the Philippines have expressed willingness to support the country with regard to COVID vaccines, said Sec. Galvez.
Sec Roque, on the other hand, pointed out the importance of President Duterte’s independent foreign policy in ensuring access to the vaccines. “Kaya po importante yung naging pagkakaibigan natin sa bansang China, Russia and even India dahil bagamat hindi sila mayayamang mga bansa eh sila ay nagpoproduce din ng mga bakuna at sila naman ay nagsasabi sa kapwa nilang mga hindi masyadong mayamang mga bansa gaya ng Pilipinas na bibigyan din tayo ng bakuna,” said Roque.
This vaccine diplomacy on the part of China, in which the Chinese government pledged to make the vaccines a global public good, assures its neighboring and allied countries that the vaccines will be made available to them, said Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana.
Ambassador Sta. Romana added that three Chinese companies were already granted emergency use authorization (EUA) since July 2020 in China, and that an issuance for the general use of the vaccines is expected to be released by the Chinese government before the end of this year. ### OPS-PCOO