SECRETARY Carlito Galvez Jr., Malacañang’s vaccine czar, once again assured that Bacolod City is one of the priority cities of the national government in the vaccine distribution.
“Don’t worry because Bacolod City is our priority after Cebu City and afterward, Iloilo City,” Galvez told the virtual special general assembly of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), led by Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia as national president, Thursday, February 4.
“All the highly urbanized cities (HUCs) are priorities; we will not leave anyone behind,” Galvez added.
In November 2020, Galvez, who is also the chief implementer of the National Task Force Against Covid-19, had informed Leonardia via text message that Bacolod is among the local government units (LGUs) in the country poised to first receive the Covid-19 vaccine in case the national government gets a hold of its supply.
The LCP held a special assembly with Galvez and lawyer Michael Aguinaldo, chair of the Commission on Audit (COA), for an orientation on the COA guidance for the availment of Covid-19 vaccines by cities.
Galvez said their strategy is to have more than what is needed in case a slippage happens in the production of the vaccines and to avoid competing with other countries as well.
According to the vaccine czar, LGUs must let the national government procure the necessary vaccines so that they can focus on the vaccination campaign and the implementation of the vaccination plan.
“It’s much better if you focus on the implementation and inoculation on our citizens,” Galvez said.
Before the Covid-19 vaccines reach the LGUs, transactions between their manufacturers and the national government must be done first.
Leonardia told Galvez: “I would like to express our deepest appreciation. We know how busy you are and we are really impressed that you have given us this much time.”
Aguinaldo, in giving guidance to the city mayors, said: “I had to issue notes on the guidelines on the auditors to remind them that we are still under a pandemic situation and that they should always consider that in conducting the audit.”
Leonardia told Aguinaldo that LCP would prefer that the national government will do the negotiation and procurement with the vaccine companies while the LGUs will simply reimburse the national government. Aguinaldo expressed openness to the proposition but suggested that everybody should wait for what exactly will be the final arrangements.
Manila City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, for his part, said: “The logic is to achieve our goal which is the herd immunity concept. The earlier, the better — as long as it is certified by local agencies like the FDA (Food and Drug Administration).”
The general assembly was participated in by 77 cities including 58 mayors.
Among those in attendance were LCP Secretary-General and Calapan City Mayor Arnan Panaligan; LCP Committee on Vaccine Availment chair Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas; vice chair General Santos City Mayor Ronnel Rivera; and members Public Relations Officer Ormoc City Mayor Richard Gomez, Bacoor City Mayor Lani Mercado, Balanga City Mayor Francis Anthony Garcia, Zamboanga City Mayor Beng Climaco, and Candon City Mayor Ericson Singson, Tangub City Mayor Jennifer Tan, Pagadian City Mayor Samuel Co; and LCP Focal Mayor for Environment, Climate Change, and DRRM Mayor Noel Rosal of Legazpi City, LCP executive director Veronica Hitosis, and other LCP officials. (PR)