Pangilinan: Additional P25-billion budget on vaccine procurement needs Senate hearing

SENATOR Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Tuesday said that additional spending on the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines needs to be subjected to a Senate hearing.

Earlier, Budget Secretary Wendell Avisado said that the government needs an additional 25 billion pesos on top of the 82.5 billion pesos allocated for vaccine procurement under the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2.

“Kailangang busisiin ang mungkahi na ito at nang maliwanagan ang publiko sa dagdag na gastos. Bakit kulang ang kasalukuyang budget? Saan napupunta ang panggastos? Maraming mga katanungan kung kaya dapat ay magkaroong muli ng Senate Commitee of the Whole hearing tungkol dito,” Pangilinan said.

The Senate Committee of the Whole convened early this year to probe the government’s Covid-19 vaccination plan following a privilege speech delivered by Pangilinan in December 2020.

The senator asserts, however, that it is once again time to check on the progress of the vaccine roll out half a year later.

“We wrote to the Senate President about this matter last March and he said that he is open to reconvening. We hope we can do so even while in sine die adjournment so we can take necessary steps to further improve our vaccine roll-out,” Pangilinan said.

Other signatories to the letter are Senators Franklin Drilon, Ralph Recto, Risa Hontiveros, Leila De Lima, and Nancy Binay.

Avisado also announced that President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the release of an additional 2.5 billion pesos from the 2021 contingency fund for the procurement of 4 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine.

The Department of Budget and Management further noted that it has already released 59.39 billion pesos of the 70-billion-peso budget of the Department of Health for vaccine procurement.

“We need to be clarified on the current disbursements and spendings that’s why it’s important to convene the Senate Committee of the Whole. Nag-iisa lang ang layunin natin dito: paano pa mas mapapabilis ang vaccine roll-out para maabot ang ating mga kababayan,” Pangilinan said.

As of June 6, a total of 9,329,050 have so far been delivered to the Philippines from various manufacturers. Of the 6.5 million Sinovac vaccines, 5.5 million were purchased by the government and 1 million were donated.

Some 2.5 million AstraZeneca and 193,050 Pfizer vaccine doses also arrived from the Covax facility.

The Philippines has so far administered 5,180,721 doses of vaccine, with 3,974,350 for the first dose and 1,206,371 for the second dose as of May 30, 2021.