Whole-of-nation approach needed for successful vaccine rollout — Bong Go

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go has welcomed and lauded President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to allow private entities to import Covid-19 vaccines “at will”, particularly for their workers, subject to existing laws and regulations.

He said the move is consistent with the government’s whole-of-nation approach in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic which enjoins everyone to contribute to the country’s collective efforts.

Go said he is one of the proponents who appealed for such action to boost private sector involvement and people participation for the success of the National Vaccination Program.

Isa ako sa pangunahing nagmungkahi nito sa Pangulo at kay Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. noong nakaraang mga araw para mapabilis ang ating vaccine rollout (I’m one of those who recommended this to President and to Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. the previous days to hasten our vaccine rollout),” Go said in a news release on Wednesday.

He appealed for cooperation, saying the fight against Covid-19 is not only the government’s responsibility but “every Filipino.”

Go said the private sector must be allowed to help in speeding up the country’s vaccination program, noting that many private sector entities have direct contacts with vaccine providers.

“Karamihan sa private sector ay may sariling direct contacts sa mga vaccine providers. Mabibigyan natin sila ng sapat na oportunidad na makatulong kung pabibilisin natin ang proseso at aalalayan natin sila sa pag-comply sa mga requirements (Most in the private sector have direct contacts with vaccine providers. We can give them enough opportunity to fast-track the process and assist them to comply with the requirements),” Go said. “Huwag pong pahirapan para hindi matagalan ang pagbili ng bakuna para sa mga kababayan natin (Don’t make it difficult for them so that they can buy vaccines for our people).”

Given the go-signal from the President to allow the private sector to import vaccines at will subject to existing regulations, Go expects it to expedite the recovery of the economy, thereby lowering the number of Filipinos going hungry and slipping into poverty.

“Makakatulong ito upang bumaba ang bilang ng mga Pilipinong naghihirap at nagugutom (It will help bring down the number of Filipinos experiencing hunger),” he said.

During his Talk to the People on Monday, Duterte said he will allow private entities to import their Covid-19 vaccines to strengthen the policy as provided in Republic Act (RA) 11525 establishing the Covid-19 vaccination program expediting the procurement and administration process.

According to RA 11525, “private entities may procure Covid-19 vaccines only in cooperation with the DOH (Department of Health) and NTF (National Task Force Against Covid-19) through a multiparty agreement, which shall include the DOH and the relevant supplier of Covid-19 vaccine.”

The law also states that “any such vaccines, supplies or services procured by private entities shall be for the sole and exclusive use of such companies, without prejudice to the multiparty agreement.”

“I have ordered [Secretary Carlito] Galvez to sign any document that will allow the private sector to import (vaccines) at will,” Duterte said. “No matter how much or how many they want to bring in, it’s okay with me.”

Duterte admitted that the government is having a difficult time procuring vaccines as countries had been fighting over the limited global supply, with some even hoarding up doses.

Go, chair of the Senate Committee on Health, thanked the private sector for their continuing cooperation and contribution to the country’s fight against the pandemic.

“Bilang chair ng Senate Committee on Health, taus-puso ang aking pasasalamat sa ating pribadong sektor sa kanilang walang tigil na kooperasyon at kontribusyon sa kampanya natin kontra sa pandemya (As chair of the Senate Committee on Health, my heartfelt appreciation to our private sector for their unending cooperation and contribution in our campaign against pandemic),” Go said. “Patunay ito na buhay na buhay ang bayanihan natin sa gitna ng krisis (It proves that community cooperation is alive amid the health crisis).”

He also asked everyone to trust the government and support the National Vaccine Roadmap and strengthen their ‘bayanihan’ spirit for the country’s quick recovery.

At the onset of the pandemic, Go successfully appealed to the national government to implement a small businesses wage subsidy program to help micro, small and medium enterprises cope with, support the middle class and mitigate the adverse effects of the Covid-19 health emergency on the economy.

He also supported the passage of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) measure which Duterte signed on March 26.

The measure lowers corporate income taxes and rationalizes the country’s fiscal incentives system to encourage businesses to invest in the Philippines.

“I assure you of my utmost support as we strive to overcome this crisis as one nation. I will continue to support measures for economic recovery, such as the recently passed CREATE Act, as well as other initiatives, like our successful appeal to grant the Small Business Wage Subsidy program for workers affected by the pandemic,” he said. 

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