Drilon eyes P19-B for Covid-19 vaccines, calamity aid

Drilon eyes P19-B for Covid-19 vaccines, calamity aid

By Junex Doronio

RUMORED TO BE POSITIONING AS OPPOSITION VICE-PRESIDENTIAL bet for 2022, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has proposed for the realignment of the P19-billion anti-insurgency 2021 budget to purchase vaccines for the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) and for calamity response projects.

“The minority will propose a realignment of the anti-insurgency funds in order that we can set the correct priorities in the budget principally to address the pandemic and the calamities brought about by Rolly and any coming storms, the housing needs and budget for ayuda [assistance],” Drilon bared late Monday in an online interview.

Drilon pointed out that the proposed P8-billion budget for the vaccine under the House-approved General Appropriations Bill (GAB) is “just grossly inadequate.”

“The allocation for anti-insurgency can be postponed for a year. I don’t think our programs will collapse if we postpone that P19B anti-insurgency fund to 2022,” he said.

On Monday, November 9, vaccine czar and National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said the bulk of vaccines against COVID-19 will be available by end of 2021 to early 2022.

The retired Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief explained that the planning and preparation for the implementation of the Covid-19 vaccination can take at least six months.

Galvez added that supply poses a challenge since rich countries have secured access to most vaccines in advance.

Drilon said the anti-insurgency funds can be used as augmentation for the country’s vaccination program.

He noted that according to the Department of Health (DOH), the government must vaccinate 60 percent of the 105-million population of the Philippines to achieve “herd immunity.”

“Based on the 105 million Filipinos, you will need to inoculate about 60 to 70 million Filipinos. At P500 per person, that will require an allocation of P30B. Admittedly, it cannot be done in one year because we are not prepared,” Drilon said.

The opposition senator stressed that there should also be a “bigger budget” to address calamities.

“Typhoon Rolly caused a damage of P15 billion. The incoming typhoon Ulysses will be passing through the [National Capital Region] this week and we expect it to cause extensive damage,” Drilon said.

Some political analysts said Drilon who hails from the Visayas would be a “perfect running-mate” for presumptive Liberal Party standard-bearer Leni Robredo from the Bicol region.

Other “vice-presidentiables” are human rights lawyer Jose Manuel “Chel” Diokno whose roots from Batangas and LP president Sen. Francis Pancratius “Kiko” Pangilinan, husband of megastar Sharon Cuneta. (ia)

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