Bebot files bill for nationwide Covid-19 vaccination program

A CEBU City congressman has filed a bill seeking the implementation of a free nationwide vaccination program against Covid-19 should a vaccine become available in the market.

Cebu City Rep. Rodrigo “Bebot” Abellanosa (Cebu City, South District) filed House Bill 7287 on Wednesday, Aug. 5, 2020.

Abellanosa’s bill seeks to craft implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the distribution of a Covid-19 vaccine just before an available vaccine could be available in the market.

“We do not want to repeat the confusions and delays in the SAP (Social Amelioration Program) financial assistance due to the half-baked IRR and haphazard implementation preparations,” said Abellanosa.

The proposed states that funds shall be charged against the current appropriations of the Department of Health (DOH) and for the continued implementation of the program, the budget shall be included in the General Appropriations Act.

For the IRR, the DOH, in coordination with the Department of the Interior and Local Government, shall formulate the rules and regulations of the program within 60 days of the approval of the bill.

To ensure the extensive implementation of the program, the DOH and its attached agencies shall also closely coordinate with the local government units.

Abellanosa said his bill, once passed into law, would ensure that as soon as the Covid-19 vaccine will be made available, the process and funding would already be in place for its immediate purchase.

“Further, this bill seeks free access to the vaccine in order to safeguard the health of the country’s most precious resource, the Filipino population,” he added.

In anticipation of the availability of a Covid-19 vaccine, local mayors nationwide have started allocating funds for its purchase.

In Manila, Mayor Isko Moreno already prepared a P200 million supplemental budget in preparation for the purchase of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella has also announced the City Government will purchase its own, but no budget has been specified yet.

In one of his televised meetings with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), President Rodrigo Duterte said should a Covid-19 vaccine become available, only 20 million can benefit from it for free.

Duterte said once a vaccine is available, it will be given for free to the following priority sectors: low-income families who had benefited from the government’s social amelioration program, middle-income families, police, military and Cabinet members.

Ninth straight day

Meanwhile, Covid-19 infections in the country continued to increase by more than 3,000 per day for the ninth consecutive day.

The DOH on Friday, Aug. 7, 2020, reported an additional 3,379 cases, bringing the total case count to 122,754.

The agency also said there were 24 more mortalities, raising the death toll to 2,168, while 96 more patients have recovered from Covid-19, increasing the total recoveries to 66,852.

Of the new cases Friday, 1,846 came from the National Capital Region (NCR), 314 from Rizal, 276 from Laguna, 145 from Cavite, and 66 from Quezon.

The additional deaths were from Central Visayas, 14; NCR, nine; and Western Visayas, one.

One occurred in August, four in July, eight in June, eight in May, one in April and two in March.

Globally, more than 18 million people have been infected and around 700,000 had died due to Covid-19 as of Aug. 6, according to the World Health Organization. (JJL/HDT/SunStar Philippines)


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