BACOLOD City Mayor Evelio Leonardia was among the guests at the ceremonial signing Thursday, January 14, 2021, for the national government to accept donations from the private sector of AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccines.
The ceremonial signing was part of the second wave of private-sector efforts to help the national government secure more Covid vaccines for Filipinos.
This private-sector drive dubbed, “A Dose of Hope,” was spearheaded by Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Jose Ma. “Joey” Concepcion, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez of the National Task Force Against Covid-19, and AstraZeneca Philippines country president Lotis Ramin.
President Rodrigo Duterte, who keynoted the ceremonial signing, said: “To everyone involved in the ‘A Dose of Hope’ project, I congratulate you on this achievement. To all who helped and continue to grow this tripartite partnership, thank you very much! We now have a weapon to defeat this virus - the vaccine. Let us win the war and save lives and livelihood.”
Senator Bong Go said, “This will be the key for us to return to normal. This ceremonial signing that is happening today is important because this signifies our official rise against Covid-19. I also thank the LGUs that showed initiative in working with the national government and the private sector in ensuring the welfare of their constituents.”
For his part, Galvez said, “The ceremonial signing is just the start of our growing partnership, which we expect to further strengthen in the coming months. I am very confident that we will sustain this initiative because of the commitment, determination, and generosity that I have seen in each and every one of you.”
Three city mayors were invited to speak on behalf of the cities during the ceremony: Mayor Leonardia of Bacolod City, Mayor Sara Duterte of Davao City, and Mayor Abigail Binay of Makati City. On the other hand, Governor Dakila Carlo Cua of Quirino Province, national chairman of the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP), spoke for the provinces in the event.
Leonardia, who is also the national president of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), told the organizers, “On behalf of the city mayors, I am thankful that the cities are one of your focus areas. There are 146 cities in the country and we represent more than 40 million Filipinos. It is in cities where you can say that the Covid-19 problem is more serious.”
He added: “When the vaccines finally reach our shores, we will make sure to hit the ground running”, in reference to the decision of the Bacolod City Government to allot P300 million for its Covid-vaccination program and its initial agreement to avail of 650,000 doses from AstraZeneca.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte said, “Today is the beginning of a new chapter, one that we hope will usher in a better year ahead for all of us in terms of finally addressing the pandemic. Mass vaccination will be a priority and joint efforts among several private and public sectors are crucial in this regard.”
Governor Dakila Carlo Cua, national chairman of the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP), said, “Our lives should keep on going and this challenge is not only for us Filipinos but for the whole world. It is a challenge against humanity. Today, not only did we sign on a paper, we cemented and showed the patriotism of the Filipinos to the whole world.”
Concepcion, meanwhile, thanked the donors from the public and private sectors – including the local government units – for their support to secure the Covid-19 vaccines.
According to Concepcion, there are still LGUs that are in the process of securing the AstraZeneca vaccine.
AstraZeneca has partnered with the University of Oxford in developing a vaccine against Covid-19 to ensure a “broad and equitable access at no profit for the duration of the pandemic,” said Ramin.
“Today, we are delighted to conclude 17 million doses which can reach millions of Filipinos through the close collaboration of AstraZeneca, the Philippine government, LGUs, and the private sector donors,” Ramin added.
British Ambassador Daniel Pruce said the British government supported the research conducted by the University of Oxford which led to the development of the vaccine.
“We are proud that our scientific community was able to deliver this important contribution to the global efforts to fight the coronavirus,” Pruce added.
Also attending the ceremonial signing were Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto, other governors and mayors in the country. (PR)