BY GILBERT P. BAYORAN
The League of Municipalities of the Philippines Negros Occidental chapter has been urged by Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson to strongly suggest to vaccine czar Carlito Galvez that the national government provides a big percentage of free Covid-19 vaccines, especially to 4th and 5th class municipalities.
This was after Negros Occidental cities, although not 100 percent, revealed that they are willing to set aside funds for the purchase of vaccines, Lacson, who presided over the virtual meeting with local chief executives yesterday, said.
The cities of Himamaylan, Sagay, Cadiz, and Talisay already signified intentions to buy vaccines, with funds ranging from P1 million to as high as P80 million.
The provincial government also entered into a multi-lateral agreement with AstraZeneca for the acquisition of 100,000 doses for 50,000 individuals, with medical frontliners to be given priority in the vaccination.
Lacson said he expects the release of vaccines in the second or third quarter of this year.
He also said it was agreed by the Negros Occidental mayors that the negotiation for the purchase of vaccines should be coursed through the provincial government.
“After an initial contract with AstraZeneca, we will ask if we can have another contract, this time for the requirements of our LGUs, especially the cities,” he added.
In a dialog Tuesday among Galvez, Health Secretary Francisco Duque, and members of the League of Cities of the Philippines, chaired by Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia, Lacson said the impression that the city mayors got from the National Inter Agency Task Force was for local government units to take care of themselves, by buying the vaccines, in contrast to their beliefs that it will be the national government that will provide the vaccines for them.
The national government was reported to have allocated P75 billion for the purchase of Covid vaccines.
Lacson said he wants to know if the allocation includes free vaccines to LGUs, stressing that the municipalities are relying on the national government for the vaccines, and hoping that the provincial government can help them, too. The League of Governors of the Philippines is also set to hold a similar meeting with Galvez and Duque on the purchase of vaccines.*