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Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Gov’t critics politicizing vaccine rollout, procurement – President Duterte

Government critics are using the COVID-19 pandemic to score political points especially as the country gears towards the general election next year, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte said on Monday.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on March 22, 2021. KING RODRIGUEZ/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

“That’s what you would call the classic case of if you want to appear white, you paint the other guy black para ang labas mo puting-puti ka,” President Duterte said during his weekly public address on government response on COVID-19 pandemic.

“Si Mr. Clean, parang ganoon. Ganoon ‘yan eh, style bulok.”

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, who virtually joined the meeting with the President, said administration critics have intensified their attacks as the country moves towards the election next year by using the pandemic as an issue.

Roque said if those detractors still have conscience, they should just help the administration find a solution to the country’s present predicament instead of using the pandemic for their selfish political gains.

Responding to government critics, President Duterte said the money intended for vaccine procurement is still with the lending banks and not with the government.

The government would only make the payment once the vaccine manufacturers delivered the jabs, he said.

“Iyan po ay papel lang. And you know, if you are afraid of corruption, let your mind go easy because these things are not susceptible to anything,” he said.

“The money is in the hands of the bank and they collect ‘yong nagpabili sa atin ng bakuna from the bank.”

The government has allocated P82.5-billion total financing for vaccine procurement, logistics and other supplies including waste disposal, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said.

The country’s vaccination rollout is funded by P2.5 billion from the Department of Health budget, P10 billion from the Bayanihan 2 as well as other fund sources, the finance chief said.

The government has secured financing from the World Bank with P24.3 billion; Asian Development Bank, P19.5 billion; and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, P14.6 billion, Dominguez explained, adding government savings and official development assistance (ODA) will also fund the vaccine procurement.

“Now, P82.5 billion will buy us enough doses to inoculate 100 percent of our adult population,” Dominguez said.

“So ang total population natin is around 110 million. Ang below 18 is 40 million so 70 million lang to vaccinate. So that money, the 82 billion plus the private sector and another 10 billion from the LGUs will be able to vaccinate all the adults in the Philippines this year.”  PND