DOF assures enough funds for procuring vaccine supply

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 15, 2021   •   414

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) on Tuesday (June 15) assured that the national government has enough budget to procure coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine doses.

During the hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole on the COVID-19 vaccination drive, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government’s P88.6 billion budget is enough to vaccinate 70 million adult Filipinos. This, he said, will cover 149 million vaccine doses.

Dominguez also said that the government will be able to obtain 200 million doses if the private sector will also procure around 25 million doses to be added to the 30 million doses that “are currently in the pipeline for negotiations”.

When asked about the price range for the procurement of vaccines, Dominguez replied it ranges from P323.75 – P1,323.30 per dose. He, however, did not disclose which brands, saying it would violate the non-disclosure agreements with vaccine manufacturers.

Senator Franklin Drilon stated the need for the Senate as well as the public to know the price range of the procured COVID-19 vaccines.

“To be clear, wala po akong sinasabing may nagnakaw. Maliwanag po iyan. Tinatanong ko lang kung magkano ba dahilan sa ito’y obligasyon natin bilang mga senador, obligasyon natin kung paano natin ginagastos ang kanilang pera,” he said.

(To be clear, I was not saying there is corruption. It is clear. What I am asking is how much were the doses since this is our obligation as Senators. It is our obligation to know how we spend public funds.)

“This is a public forum, we cannot disclose publicly. Now if COA [Commission on Audit] wants to audit us, it is open for audit. I personally designed the financing of this involving ADB [Asian Development Bank], AIIB [Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank], and involving World Bank as a double-check. Because they will not pay for that if they see that we are overpaying,” Dominguez said.

The government is also reviewing to have an additional P20 billion to procure doses for the vaccination of children ages 12 to 15 years old. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it already released over P660 billion funds for the government COVID-19 response.

Meanwhile, the first batch of vaccine supply for the private sector will arrive on June 17.

Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. also said that private companies will give excess doses to the local government.

“Most of the private sector indicated to me that they will donate it to the LGU. considering that when we procured the vaccine the intention of the private sector is really to help the government in producing the dosage,” he said. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Suspension of fuel excise tax, detrimental to economic recovery — DOF

Maris Federez   •   October 28, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) expressed before the House Committee on Energy its opposition to the proposed suspension of excise tax on petroleum products.

The DOF warned that suspending the imposition of excise tax on fuel will cost the government about Php131.4 billion in revenue for 2022 which, according to the agency, is detrimental to economic recovery.

“The unrealized public spending and the investments from the foregone revenues will also be detrimental to our economic recovery and long-term growth,” said DOF director Euvimil Nina Asuncion.

Asuncion said that providing a targeted subsidy to the transportation sector will be more equitable than removing all fuel excise taxes which may only subsidize the consumption of higher-income households.

The Department of Energy (DOE), however, estimated suspending the excise tax on petroleum products will lower pump prices by about Php8 to Php10 per liter.

“We specifically proposed the suspension of the excise tax because of the urgency in addressing the plight our kababayans,” said DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

House Committee on Energy chairperson Representative Juan Miguel Arroyo confirmed that he will push for the amendment of oil deregulation law and the suspension of the imposition of excise tax on fuel products. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

PNP ready to assist in national rollout of COVID-19 pediatric vaccination – Eleazar

Robie de Guzman   •   October 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday said it is ready to secure and help in the government’s nationwide COVID-19 vaccination drive for all minors, which is set to start next week.

In a statement, PNP chief Police General Guillermo Eleazar said he has ordered all police units across the country to start security preparations for the national rollout of the vaccination for children aged 12 to 17 that may start as early as Nov. 3.

“Police commanders nationwide should get in touch with their LGUs to be able to effectively craft security plans with the aim of enforcing minimum public health standards and ensuring the safety of minors and their parents,” Eleazar said.

Police assets are also ready to assist in the national vaccination program in any capacity, including disseminating information and awareness on COVID-19 vaccines.

“The Medical Reserve Force is on standby and is ready for deployment to help facilitate the inoculation process should our LGUs require assistance in their local vaccination programs,” the PNP chief said.

The Philippine government is expecting to vaccinate around 12.7 million children aged 12 to 17.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said the national government is eyeing to complete the vaccination of children within this age group by December.

DOH says HTAC recommendations on vaccine booster, third shots to be updated

Robie de Guzman   •   October 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The recommendation of the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC) on the implementation of COVID-19 vaccine boosters and third doses are still interim and will be updated, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

In a statement, the DOH clarified that HTAC’s recommendations only serve as a guide to sectorial planning and will be revised pending assessment from the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the amendment of Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).

It will also be updated based on the recommendation from the World Health Organization Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (WHO SAGE) expected this November, it added.

The DOH earlier said the EUA of vaccines must first be amended to state the number of doses that must be administered as part of the series. A letter of intent for the application of the EUA has been submitted to the FDA.

The DOH said that the formal recommendation on boosters will have to be adapted into a policy with operational plans

While waiting for the guidelines on boosters, the DOH reiterated that reaching eligible unvaccinated individuals 12 years old and above should be prioritized.

“The primary series of vaccines far outweigh the incremental benefit of boosters. We have to prioritize giving the primary series of these COVID-19 vaccines to the unvaccinated so they, too, can receive the additional protection that vaccines provide against hospitalizations and deaths,” said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

On the mixing and matching of vaccine brands for boosters, the department said that it will depend on FDA’s final assessment of the evidence submitted by the DOH All Experts Group.

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