PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday, October 14, said he wants all Filipinos to have the vaccine against the novel coronavirus.
In a televised public address, he said he is looking for more funds to ensure that everyone will be given the vaccine, no exceptions.
“I have the money already for the vaccine but hahanap pa ako ng maraming pera (but I will look for more money) because you know there are now 130 million Filipinos and to me, ideally, all should have a vaccine, without exception,” Duterte said.
He maintained that the poorest Filipino households will be prioritized, along with members of the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“They are vital to the security of the state. They should be the first also. Tayo, kaming mga civilian, pwede tayong last (We, civilians, can be last),” Duterte explained.
The World Health Organization (WHO), on the other hand, stated in its recommendation that frontliners in health and social care facilities, the elderly who are over 65 years old, and those with underlying medical conditions that put them at higher risk of death should be the priorities.
Duterte also showed support for China’s and Russia’s vaccines.
“Para sa akin (For me), it’s either China or Russia, okay na ako (I’m okay with that),” he said.
“Wala akong — sinasabi nila Pfizer, Moderna, ‘yung western, U.S. Okay rin ‘yan kasi may proseso nga eh (I have nothing — they say Pfizer, Moderna, the western, US. They’re also okay because there’s a process),” he added.
Not enough budget
Marikina City 2nd Dist. Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo pointed out that the country has insufficient fund allocation for its COVID-19 response, explaining that only P2.5 billion was earmarked for the vaccines.
“Nakakapagtaka. Alam naman natin na ang 2021 budget ay isang COVID budget at alam naman natin na para maka-recover ang ekonomiya, ang number 1 na kailangan gawin ay i-handle ang pagkalat ng COVID (It’s confounding. We know that the 2021 budget is a COVID budget and we know that to revive the economy, the number 1 needed to do is handle the spread of COVID),” she said during the House plenary deliberations on the Department of Health’s (DOH) proposed budget.
“Paano nangyari na nakaligtaan natin na magbudget ng sapat na amount para sa COVID (How did we miss allocating the sufficient amount of budget for COVID),” she added.
Zamboanga City Rep. Manuel “Mannix” Dalipe, meanwhile, said the budget was crafted before Duterte declared to vaccinate 20 million Filipinos.
“Noong ginagawa po ‘yung budget ng Department of Health, hindi pa po lumalabas ‘yung pronouncement ng Presidente. Kaya po ‘yung sinubmit ng DOH, ang proposal nila ay P2.5 billion. Pero noong nilabas po ni President Duterte ‘yung kanyang desire to have 20 million Filipinos, doon po nagkaroon ng deperensya. S’yempre tataas din po ‘yung cost (When the budget of the DOH was being crafted, the pronouncement of the President hadn’t come out yet. That’s why the DOH submitted its proposal of P2.5 billion. But when President Duterte declared his desire to have 20 million Filipinos, the problem arose. Of course the cost will increase),” he said.
“Hindi po sapat. May kulang pa po tayong P10.42 billion at kung pwede sana madagdag ito (It’s not enough. We need an additional P10.42 billion). This is for the full requirements for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines to cover the 20 million population, in accordance with the directives of his Excellency President Duterte,” he added.