“Unspent funds” of certain government agencies may be tapped to augment the budget for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, Senator Imee Marcos claimed, as the Philippines negotiates its way into securing more sources for the anti-coronavirus drug.
“We are looking, at least in my case, I am really looking at the DOTr [Department of Transportation] which has so many unspent funds, for right of way, for example,” the lawmaker said in an interview. “Even the DPWH [Department of Public Works and Highways], ang daming (there are so many) unspent.”
“‘Yung right of way, ang konti konti ng nagagastos year-on-year, nasa 25 percent lang,” she pointed out. “Ilipat na natin ‘yung 75 percent at bigyan na natin ng proper budget ‘yung ating DOH or kung sino man ang magpo-procure ng vaccine.”
[We spend only a little for right of way year-on-year, it’s only at 25 percent. Let’s move the 75 percent and give proper budget to the DOH or whichever procures the vaccine. ]
The Senate had allocated a total of ₱83 billion for COVID-19 vaccines in its recently passed 2021 spending bill. Of the amount, ₱8 billion was lodged under the Department of Health, while ₱75 billion was set aside in unprogrammed appropriations for vaccine purchase, storage, transportation and distribution.
Last week, the government has successfully secured around 2.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca through a ₱600-million donation from the private sector. It is expected to be distributed to 1.5 million Filipinos, with officials expressing hope that the product can be delivered by mid-2021 following clinical trials.