During the Senate regular session on Wednesday, December 9, Senator and Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance Christopher “Bong” Go lauded his colleagues in both chambers of Congress for ratifying the Bicameral Committee report on the proposed 2021 national budget totaling to PhP4.5 trillion.
“I would like to express my congratulations and gratitude to the conferees of both Houses of Congress,” Go said, as he commended the chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, Senator Sonny Angara, his fellow vice chairpersons and the Senate for the newly ratified budget.
Go described the 2021 national budget as “focused on addressing the COVID-19 crisis, boosting economic recovery, and continuing the priority programs and projects of the Duterte Administration towards fulfilling the promise of President Rodrigo Duterte of providing a comfortable life for all Filipinos.”
Go added that the ratified budget includes an appropriated amount for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccine, and an unprogrammed appropriation which could also be used for this purpose.
“Among others, merong appropriated amount na PhP2.5 Billion for the purchase ng COVID-19 vaccine, plus another PhP70 Billion as unprogrammed appropriation na puwedeng magamit rin po dito,” he said.
In the same manifestation of support delivered in the Senate plenary, Go also commended the National COVID-19 vaccine roadmap prepared by the National Task Force Against COVID-19 led by Vaccine Czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr.
He further explained that on top of the 2021 budget and the amount allocated through the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act intended for direct procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, there are other various modes of procurement for the vaccines that the Duterte Administration is exploring.
“Other equally important modes include multilateral loans with the ADB and World Bank, bilateral loans with select countries, and private sector financing through tripartite agreement among the national government, pharmaceutical company and a private company, with no cost to the government,” he added.
According to the Senator, the National Task Force Against COVID-19 has created six task groups to carry out the country’s vaccination plan. These include:
1. Task Group on Vaccine Evaluation and Selection which will evaluate the vaccine, determine precisely who gets which vaccine and how to allocate when supply-constrained;
2. Task Group on Diplomatic Engagement and Negotiation;
3. Task Group on Procurement and Finance which will ensure funding is budgeted and allocated for all vaccination activities;
4. Task Group on Vaccine Cold Chain and Logistics Management which will distribute and recover vaccine as needed, and procure, store and distribute Personal Protective Equipment, and supplies;
5. Task Group on COVID-19 Immunization Program which will enroll providers, assess coverage and develop plans to fill any gaps identified; and
6. Task Group on Demand Generation and Communications which will develop messaging and initiatives to drive public uptake of the vaccine.
He also assured the public that he will continue to coordinate with the executive department to ensure the systematic facilitation of the vaccine plan and the prioritization of key vulnerable sectors as expressed by the President.
“Patuloy po ang koordinasyon natin sa Executive sa pangunguna ng ating Vaccine Czar na si Secretary Galvez para po maisaayos ang roll-out po ng COVID-19 vaccine plan,” said Go.
He added that once a vaccine is deemed safe and effective, the poor, vulnerable sectors and frontliners will be prioritized so they can immediately get their lives back to normal.
“Kapag may safe at effective na vaccine na po, sang-ayon ako sa plano ng ating Pangulo na unahin ang mga mahihirap, mga parte ng vulnerable sectors, at ang ating mga frontliners, tulad ng mga guro, medical workers at uniformed personnel,” he said.
Ending his speech, he reminded executive agencies to spend their budgets properly and that the services for which they are intended must reach their intended beneficiaries.
“Uulitin ko po, lagi kong paalala sa ating mga executive agencies — siguraduhin natin na magagamit ang pera ng bayan sa tama, siguraduhin natin na makakarating ang tulong sa mga nangangailangan at pinaka-apektado nating mga kababayan po sa ngayon at walang inaasahan kundi ang ating gobyerno,” Go reminded them.
“At siguraduhin natin na walang pinipiling oras ang ating pagtulong at pagserbisyo sa bayan,” he ended.