Gov’t willing to spend P20-B to fund free COVID-19 vaccine program

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President Rodrigo Duterte assured that the government has enough funds to purchase and distribute free coronavirus vaccines to 20 million Filipinos once it is available on the market.

The chief executive also expressed confidence that a vaccine against the novel virus will be developed by December.

He said that China may be one of the first countries to complete its research, and claimed the Philippines will be prioritized in the distribution of vaccines because it is “friendly” to the said country.

“I promise you by the grace of God, I hope by December we will be back to normal.”

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said that they have a plan that will enable Philippines to procure 40 million doses of vaccines — estimated to cost P20 billion.

“We have a plan,” Dominguez said during the televised meeting. “We can execute it as soon as the Department of Health (DOH) chooses which vaccine or vaccines they want. Certainly, by late this year, if it’s available, we can already buy it.”

He said the vaccine chosen by the DOH will be bought through the Philippine International Trading Corporation (PITC), which is under the Department of Trade. It will be initially financed by the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines, then paid off by the DOH.

“The Department of Health will put in their budget to pay this $400 million or roughly P20 billion. We can pay that over maybe two or three years. Babayaran nila (they will pay) through the financing company, which is Landbank and DBP,” he said.

The finance chief added, “That is totally available, the financing is available for this program.”

Duterte said he wants to prioritize the poor families in the initial distribution of vaccines, with the military in charge of handing them out.

DOTr: NAIA privatization doable in 2024

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Spread the loveMANILA — The privatization of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) may be implemented by the first quarter of 2024, according