The City of Bacolod will set aside ₱ 300 million for the procurement of vaccines for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Mayor Evelio Leonardia confirmed the amount in a press conference held at the Government Center here on Thursday evening after the city government started efforts to obtain supply by entering into a confidentiality agreement and a multilateral agreement with AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals (Philippines), one of the companies being tapped by the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP).
“We are willing to augment, to re-align, and to revert all items in our budget if the need arises. We will be starting with the preparation of ₱ 300 million for the vaccines. We will make adjustments if necessary,” he said.
The City Council, led by Vice Mayor El Cid Familiaran, granted Leonardia the authority to sign the contracts during a special session held on Wednesday.
The non-disclosure agreement covers the proposed business arrangements for the availability and distribution of the vaccine while the multilateral agreement is between and among AstraZeneca, the national government through the National Task Force Against Covid-19, the Department of Health, and the city government of Bacolod.
On Thursday, Leonardia also sent a letter-request to the City Council, asking to give him continuing authorization to enter into contracts with other pharmaceutical companies legally operating in the Philippines that could provide Covid-19 vaccines duly approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
“We have to move fast and act fast. Let me tell you that we are very serious. Probably in the Philippines – per capita basis – we have the biggest budget for the Covid-19 vaccines. That should prove indisputably our concern for the people. We believe this (vaccine procurement) is the most important of all,” he said.
In December, Leonardia, national president of LCP, formed the league’s Committee on Vaccine Availment chaired by Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas for the city mayors to strategize efforts to ensure that their constituents have early access to quality and affordable vaccines.
After he and Treñas met with top officials of AstraZeneca in a virtual dialog on Tuesday, Leonardia said the LCP would also hold exploratory talks with other pharmaceutical companies regarding the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.
As of Thursday, Bacolod has 5,620 confirmed Covid-19 cases, including 5,369 recoveries, 73 active cases, and 178 deaths.
(Nanette Guadalquiver via Philippine News Agency (PNA), photo courtesy of PNA)