Frustrated Remulla wants LGUs allowed to buy own COVID-19 vaccines

“Bakit hindi na lang kami hayaan makipag-negotiate direct to buy our own vaccine supply eh may pera naman kaming mga LGU?” asks Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla. 

Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla on Thursday expressed frustration over the lacking COVID-19 vaccine supply as he appealed to the national government to let local government units (LGUs) purchase their own jabs. 

“Ako po ay patuloy na nakikiusap na pahintulutan na sana kaming mga LGU na umangkat ng sarili naming vaccine supply. Wala po akong nakikitang rason para harangan ang aming layunin na siguraduhing ligtas ang kalusugan at buhay ng aming mga kalalawigan,” wrote Remulla in a Facebook post on August 26.

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Posted by Jonvic Remulla on Wednesday, August 25, 2021

According to Remulla, LGUs are barred from buying their own COVID-19 vaccines directly from manufacturers but are only allowed to procure jabs through the tripartite agreement with the national government. 

He added: “We can only buy via the Tripartite Agreement but our order remains unsigned. This (Tripartite Agreement on vaccine procurement by the LGUs) is the National Policy whether we like it or not.“

The governor also expressed his disappointment in a series of posts on Twitter, saying he is “beyond frustrated” over the national government’s supposed inaction on tripartite agreements. 

The newly signed Republic Act No. 11525, otherwise known as the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, allows local governments and the private sector to procure COVID-19 vaccines through a multi-party deal with the manufacturer and the national government.

Asked by The Cavite Rising regarding such existing law, Remulla said entering such deal is “useless if it is not even signed nor given immediate action” since it is the final step to secure doses from vaccine makers. 

Vaccine czar Galvez explains issues hounding tripartite deals

Meanwhile, vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. on Tuesday night denied that the national government is delaying the approval of multi-party agreements (MPA). 

This, according to Galvez, is because some vaccine makers no longer want to get into any MPAs with other sectors and prefer to rather engage with the national government for the procurement of COVID-19 doses.

He also previously explained the limited vaccine supply and regulatory issues are among the other factors affecting the tripartite procurement deals involving LGUs and the private sector. 

“As we have explained in the past, our nation’s vaccine procurement efforts largely depend on the availability of supply which up to this day remains limited. This is why the [National Task Force Against COVID-19] continues to actively engage various vaccine manufacturers,” he said in a statement issued last week.  

One example, Galvez said, is that the Philippine Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve the emergency use authorization of Novavax because the American biotech company still needs to submit several more documents.

The provincial government of Cavite previously allotted P2.5 billion to procure Novavax vaccines. Remulla said its delivery met another delay and are now expected to arrive until the last quarter of the year.   

Direct purchase deals, on the other hand, could be pursued by LGUs and the private sector once vaccines are given authority for commercial sale, the pandemic task force previously explained. 

Palace: CALABARZON to get bulk of COVID vaccines in Q4 2021  

In another tweet, Remulla reiterated his call on the national government to deliver more vaccines to Cavite since it is a neighboring province of the virus epicenter Metro Manila. 

“Cavite is directly next to NCR. Kami na nga yung hinawahan at kami din yung walang vaccine. Tapos ang sisi ng tao sa LGU. Kulang na lang lumuhod kami tuwing may alignment meeting sa zoom pero wala talaga. ‘We will get back to you,’ ang sagot nila,” the governor tweeted. 

Responding to Remulla’s plea, Malacañang said the Calabarzon region will receive 3,814,000 doses in September and an additional 17,475,388 jabs in the fourth quarter of 2021.

Cavite needs at least six million vaccine doses to achieve herd immunity, according to the governor. The province has so far administered one million doses, with 500,000 residents fully vaccinated against COVID-19. 

Remulla, moreover, said Cavite has a capacity to inoculate 60,000 doses daily. However, he said it will take 25 months or more than two years to complete the vaccination program at the current rate.

Cavite is under modified enhanced community quarantine until the end of August.

Thumbnail photo by Spencer Davis on Unsplash

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