Bong Go says adequate funds will be ready to ensure smooth roll out of COVID-19 vaccines

Senator and Vice-Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance Christopher “Bong” Go assured that legislators are set to ratify a new budget for 2021 through a General Appropriations Act that is sufficient and responsive to the needs of the country and the Filipinos.

The budget will be 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.

As Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, Go said that he is making sure that there will be adequate funding for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, as well as other health-related priority items, such as enhancements of health facilities nationwide.

“Ira-ratify na namin sa Kongreso ang budget para pagdating ng Enero, mayroon tayong bagong budget na sapat at angkop sa pangangailangan ng mga Pilipino,” Go said during an interview after distributing aid in the towns of Baliuag, Sta. Maria and Guiguinto in Bulacan on Tuesday, December 8.

Secretary of Budget and Management Wendel E. Avisado had disclosed that government is ready to spend more than P73 billion in order to vaccinate half of the population or 60 million Filipinos.

When asked about this, the Senator said that the necessary funding shall be included in the budget.

However, he clarified that the government will also explore other procurement options from domestic and bilateral sources, multilateral bodies like the World Bank and Asian Development Bank, and through the help of the private sector.

“Bilang ako ay nasa sa Senado, magtutulungan kami [ni Pangulo Rodrigo Duterte para] humanap ng pondo. Maaaring government-to-government, maaaring loan po sa World Bank o ADB o tripartite [agreement] with business groups. Basta importante, makabili tayo at makarating agad sa normal na pamumuhay ng bawat Pilipino,” he continued.

The Department of Health had also been directed by the President to negotiate a series of bilateral agreements with other countries to help ensure smooth and sufficient roll out of vaccines.

Go said he shared President Duterte’s desire to prioritize and provide free access to the poor and the vulnerable, as well as frontliners, such as medical workers, teachers and uniformed personnel, once a COVID-19 vaccine is deemed safe and effective.

“Alam niyo, dapat hindi ito problema ng taumbayan. Problema ito ng gobyerno, dapat libre ito sa mahihirap so ‘yung pondo ay hahanapan ito ng gobyerno,” vowed the Senator.

Moreover, he expressed his and the President’s willingness to be vaccinated in order to raise the public’s confidence in the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccine.

He also reiterated his challenge to Secretary of Health Francisco T. Duque III and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. to also be injected first to allay any fear of the public.

“Nagsalita na ang ating Pangulo. Willing siya mauna kung sakaling andiyan na ang safe na vaccine. Kami ni Pangulo ay lagi kaming handa kung saka sakaling kakailanganin pong i-prove natin sa taumbayan na wala silang dapat ikabahala sa vaccine na ito,” said Go.