Senator Panfilo Lacson shared his confusion regarding the budget allotment for the COVID-19 vaccines, considering there is around Php107.5 billion appropriated for the vaccines.
In a message presumably sent by the Senator to DZBB reporter Nimfa Ravelo, he made a breakdown of the supposed allotment if the country were to buy all vaccines from Moderna or Sinovac.
“Assuming na Moderna lahat ng brand, $26.83 or Php1,283/dose [ang presyo], so 83.78 doses and paglalaanana ng pondo. Kung Sinovac naman, at alam na natin na 25 million doses and inorder na ng gobyerno, at Php683/dose, mad maraming doses ang kayang bilihin – nasa 157.3 million doses,” the message said.
He added that it seemed like the Government’s funds are more than the amount that was supposed to be already used to purchase the vaccines. It is on top of the ones procured by the local government agencies, private sector, and those donated by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“Parang sobra-sobra ang pondo considering na ang business sector ay nag order ng 17 million doses na nagkakahalaga ng Php22.8 billion. Idagdag pa natin ang mga donations galing sa COVAX facility ng WHO.”
— Nimfa R. Ravelo (@nimfaravelo) June 7, 2021
Tony Leachon reacted to the message, saying that there should be accountability and transparency regarding the usage of the initial budget.
We should demand accountability and transparent information where the huge initial budget went and how it was spent … and yet we don’t have access to the vaccines that the people prefer. https://t.co/SE55Nwp7c9
— Tony Leachon MD (@DrTonyLeachon) June 8, 2021
Lacson voiced out his confusion after Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado said that the Department of Finance (DOF) estimated that the Government might need an additional Php25 billion for its vaccine purchases.
“Parang sobra-sobra naman yata ang kwentada unless they know something that we don’t know so dapat ito–hindi naman nila pera ito e. Pera ng mga mamamayan ito na ipambibili ng bakuna. Kung masasayang ang pera o magagamit lamang sa katiwalian — bakuna pa naman ang pinag-uusapan din sa pandemya — wag naman,” Lacson told reporters.
He also suggested that if ever another Php25 billion will be released, Senate President Vicente Sotto III should explain to the general public through the Senate how they’re planning to spend the big amount of money.
Senator Francis Pangilinan backed Lacson and said that there should be a Senate hearing for the additional vaccine budget.
“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.”