The Palawan provincial government said it is “very confident” that Palawan will be prioritized by the national government in its distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to local government units and has set aside plans to directly purchase supply from vaccine developers.

Provincial spokesperson Winston Arzaga told Palawan News that Governor Jose Ch. Alvarez is in direct communication with vaccine czar and IATF head Carlito Galvez to pitch the province’s vaccination program.

“We are very confident dahil naguusap sila Gob at si Secretary Galvez. Palawan is a top priority because Palawan is a big contributor ng national GDP sa tourism sector,” Arzaga said.

“Ang bakuna na ito ay ginagawa ng national government para makabangon kaya Palawan being one of the contributor at kapag nauna tayong nabakunahan ay confident na pumunta [ang turista] sa Palawan at makakabangon ang economy,” he added.

Asked however if the provincial government has received a specific commitment from Galvez or the IATF that Palawan will be prioritized in the roll-out of the vaccines, Arzaga said:

“Wala pang balita ulit pero positive naman [siguro] kasi laging may communication si Gob (Alvarez) sa national.”

Arzaga said that because of its confidence in receiving top attention from the national government, the provincial government is not initiating direct negotiations with vaccine manufacturers.

“Hindi na bibili. Kung bibigyan naman na tayo ng national ay hindi na kailangan bumili. But we set aside a P5 billion para dito in case na kailangan bumili o kulang ang bakuna para sa mga Palawenyo,” he said.

Arzaga also dismissed last week’s statement of the DILG regional office noting that only Palawan has not yet submitted its vaccination plan for approval. He said they have submitted the requirement to the Department of Health, which failed to provide it or inform the DILG.

“Hindi alam ng DILG ‘yan na nakapagsubmit na tayo sa sa DOH [ng vaccination plan],”

He added they are preparing a separate “comprehensive roadmap” which Secretary Galvez has asked them to prepare.

“Mayroon din tayong ginagawa na comprehensive roadmap for vaccination program dahil ‘yan ang hinihingi ni Secretary Galvez,” Arzaga said.

Arzaga also pointed out that the province has strengthened its health care facilities including the hospitals, cold storage plant, and doctors.

“Ngayon ang kailangan naman ay ang mga facilities at maswerte ang Palawan dahil marami tayong mga ospital, may mga cold storage facilities at mga doctors. Kaya isa rin ito sa nakikita natin na advantage ng Palawan kaya bibigyan tayo dahil fully ready tayo,” Arzaga said.


Palawan vaccine roll-out in April

Arzaga said that they are expecting that the vaccination program will start by April this year where they plan to prioritize more than 400,000 individuals aging between 18 to 59 years old.

He said that they are crafting the list of the priority individuals and conducting training for the persons who will involve in vaccination.

“Yan muna for now, mayroon tayong mga kailangan isubmit kay Secretary and by the end of this February ay mayroon na siguro tayong masusubmit na list,” he said.