Press Release
June 13, 2021

Drilon urges full accounting of COVID-19 vaccine procurement budget
The Senate chief fiscalizer says the gov't must be transparent about the pricing of the vaccines too

Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon asked the government to provide for a full accounting of the P82.5-billion COVID-19 procurement budget before it asks for more funds and urged the government to be more transparent about the pricing of the vaccines in order to strengthen public confidence in the vaccination program, which he described as "usad pagong".

"Kailangan ng taumbayan malaman kung magkano na ang nagastos at kung saan ginamit. Kailangan ang transparency sa paggasta. Pera ng taumbayan ito. Inutang po ito," Drilon said in an interview with radio station DzBB on Sunday.

"These are not small amounts. We need transparency in government spending. This is public money. Inutang po natin ito," Drilon said. "Transparency is critical in the success of the vaccination program."

It will also boost public confidence that public funds are spent correctly especially as election approaches, he emphasized.

"How many vaccines do we really need? How many have arrived so far? How many of these are donated? How many did the national government buy and at what price?" Is it the correct price?" Drilon asked.

The 2021 General Appropriations Act earmarked P72.5 billion for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines. However, only P2.5 billion, out of the P72.5 billion, is funded. The remaining P70 billion is part of the unprogrammed funds. Another P10 billion is allocated under the Bayanihan 2, making the total COVID-10 vaccine budget at P82.5 billion.

The government had recently said it may need additional P25 billion this year to buy more vaccines and another P55 billion next year for "booster shots."

"We need the crucial information on the procurement side: what we're buying, what brand, from whom, at what price and quantity," Drilon said.

"The lack of transparency also contributes to the problem of vaccine hesitancy," he added.

Drilon asked Sec. Carlito Galvez to provide the Senate a consolidated report on vaccine procurement by the national government, local government units and private sector.

The minority leader also said he hopes the government can fast-track its vaccination program which he described as "usad pagong".

Drilon underscored that efficient vaccination is key to the country's economic recovery.

"Dapat bilisan natin para maibalik ang sigla na ating ekonomiya. Huwag namang 'usad pagong' ang ating nakikita. Marami na tayong pagkukulang noong nakaraang isang taon, kaya sana natuto na tayo roon," Drilon stressed.

"If the vaccination is too slow, our economic recovery would be slow too. If our economic recovery is slow, then those who lost their jobs will not be able to return to work," Drilon said.

He noted that as of May 31, 2021, 5,248,358 doses have been administered. Of which, 4,003,776 people received the first dose, while 1,244, 582 million completed the required two doses.

Drilon said the government should already allow local government units and the private sector to buy the vaccines directly from the manufacturers in order to speed up the procurement and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

He also advised the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to give incentives or rewards to barangays which are able to convince the residents to get the much-needed shots to address vaccine hesitancy.

"Imbes na pinapalo nila yung mga tao na hindi sumusunod sa curfew, gamitin natin ang mga barangay para mapalakas yung pagbabakuna. Dapat itong DILG mag-offer ng reward sa barangay sa kapag marami sa kanilang residente ang nabakunahan," Drilon suggested.

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