Gov’t must clarify vaccine funding commitment to guide LGUs

Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Friday reiterated her call to the national government to clarify how much funds it expects local government units (LGUs) to shoulder for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines to ensure coverage for their constituents.

The senator made this call anew on Friday at the continuation of the Senate’s Committee of the Whole inquiry on the government’s vaccination plan.

“It’s still not clear to me how much you expect the LGUs to spend. I think that should be made very clear. LGUs will always want to provide for their constituents, but even for those that can afford [COVID vaccines], hindi clear kung hanggang saan ang national support at hanggang saan ang kanila,” Cayetano told officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) led by Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr.

“Hindi nila malalaman kung uubusin ba nila ang pondo nila sa AstraZeneca na lumalapit sa kanila? O kung meron naman talagang assurance that the national government will take care of X percent of their population,” she added.

Clarifying the national government’s funding and procurement plans for the vaccines, she said, would enable LGUs to more efficiently allocate their “limited and valuable” resources for other COVID response and recovery measures.

“There are many ways that [LGUs] can revive their economy and support their constituents. They could be providing subsidies for jeepney and tricycle drivers. They do not necessarily have to put all their funding into the vaccines, if the national government could commit to paying for such,” Cayetano pointed out.

“I am sure they (LGUs) would all want to help and they will help. Kung hindi talaga kakayanin [ng national government] to pay for all the vaccines, then they will have to take that out of their other funding requirements, most of which are already being directed to [addressing the pandemic],” she further noted.

On another note, the senator called on the Department of Health (DOH) and the IATF to employ the help of the country’s “vaccine experts” and third party professionals in properly communicating the government’s vaccination program and procedures to the public.

“It’s important that these third party professionals and experts also explain what this process is, and what are the dangers if we don’t respect this process, if we try to expedite it, if we try to shortcut it,” she explained.

“You need these experts to take the floor and explain. Let them be your mouthpiece so that people will get used to hearing them, block out the noise, and be more reassured,” Cayetano concluded.#

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