By Bernadette E. Tamayo | The Manila Times
FORMER senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. has called for the streamlining of the vaccine procurement process to speed up importation as local government units (LGUs) intensified their rollout.
He made the appeal amid LGUs' clamor for sufficient vaccine supply, especially in the provinces.
"To ensure enough and continuous stocks of vaccines, the government procurement agency must simply cut through the red tape," Marcos said in a statement.
He also voiced alarm over the warning of the World Health Organization (WHO) that the highly contagious Covid-19 Delta variant "now sweeps through the country as the dominant virus strain."
"The WHO has confirmed the community transmission of Delta variant which to me signifies an urgent call to action for our procurement officials to bypass the usual procedure to hasten the importation of vaccines," he said.
Marcos was referring to the tripartite agreements among the national and local governments and the private sector in the acquisition of vaccine supplies which appeared to have been set aside.
Under Republic Act 11525, or the "Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021," LGUs and private entities may procure their own vaccine supplies through multi-party agreements (MPAs) with the national government.
"For one reason or another, such agreement appears to have been virtually mothballed despite persistent appeals by the local officials and leaders of the private sector to have the MPAs signed by their counterpart in the national government," Marcos said.
"In fact, a resolution has been filed with the Senate urging the Committee of the Whole to look into the MPAs which have reportedly been submitted to the national government but remained unsigned by its representatives," he said.
Marcos said it was clear the LGUs recognize the immediate need to vaccinate their constituents.
"The real problem is the lack of vaccine supply," he stressed.
The former senator deplored the "on and off" vaccine rollout in the National Capital Region while LGUs in the provinces complain about lack of vaccines against Covid-19.
"That's why our appeal to the national government is to resolve issues in the importation of Covid-19 vaccines," Marcos said.
"I believe that if implemented, the MPAs will help a lot in addressing the problem," he added.