As if taking cue from the city government of Puerto Princesa City that had announced plans to appropriate P500 million for COVID-19 vaccine purchases once they are available, the provincial government on Tuesday disclosed its own bid to raise “close to P1 billion” for the same purpose, to be distributed among the population in its 23 municipalities.
If realized, both local government units are set to have the highest allocation in anticipated vaccine purchases, with Puerto Princesa City being prepared to buy at around P3,000 per dose.
In an interview with Palawan News Tuesday, Board Member Leoncio N. Ola said that the Provincial Board will fast track the budget allocation, including the processes and protocols for the procurement up to the distribution of vaccines to the Palaweños as per instruction of Governor Jose Chaves Alvarez.
“Almost billion kung sakali na mafinalize natin ang budget para d’yan. Hindi naman pwede na iasa natin sa national kaya ang mga LGU ngayon ay nagre-ready na ng mga funds,” Ola said.
Ola said they still have to determine the allocation of each Palawan municipality and will pool the funds under one purchase by the provincial government.
“Wala pang pinasa na allocation ang mga munisipyo kasi kakabagong taon at pangalawa ang kanilang mga savings ay na-augment na rin. Siguro within January ay mapa-plantsa na namin kasi dapat agaran ‘yan. Ayaw ni Gob na tagalan pa,” he added.
He said that they will also determine which towns will be prioritized for the fund support from the provincial government.
“May pondo naman ang mga munisipyo pero kung ang dapat namin ibigay ay ibibigay ng probinsya. May mga munispyo naman kasi na malalaki ang IRA at ang iba naman ay wala talaga. Kapag naaayos na ito ay malalaman din kung ano ang dapat i-prioritize. Pero kami naman ay nakaalalay lang sa mga LGUs natin dito,” Ola said.
Recently, Governor Jose Chaves Alvarez approved three separate resolutions that would implement COVID-19 vaccination programs in the province.
Several resolutions authored by Board Member Ryan Maminta wherein the 23 municipalities were urged to allocate and set aside funds from their existing budgets for the purchase of an available FDA-approved COVID-19 vaccine have already been passed last 2020.
One of the resolutions requested Provincial Health Office (PHO) and the Provincial Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to formulate, develop, enact, and enforce necessary immunization protocol for COVID-19. Another resolution requested Governor Alvarez, through the Local Finance Committee (LFC) to allocate, set aside and recommend the appropriation of funds for vaccines in Palawan.
Coordinate with IATF on Vaccine Purchase
Meanwhile, Malacañang and the Department of Health (DOH) warned that local governments cannot simply procure COVID-19 vaccines on their own, even as they urged local governments to coordinate with the inter-agency task force (IATF)
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the COVID-19 vaccine distribution will be based on the list of priorities, urging the local officials to work with the national government for a unified procurement and distribution system for the vaccine.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque explained orders for vaccines could not be done independently from negotiations being made with the pharmaceutical firms by the inter-agency task force (IATF) and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. (With a report from Romar Miranda)