A lawmaker at the House of Representatives on Thursday urged the Department of Health (DOH) to include funds for the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccine in its proposed budget for 2021.
Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez said it is the DOH, and not Congress, that has the expertise to come up with estimates based on its institutional knowledge on the cost of previous vaccines and its access to manufacturers.
He noted that Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano has already declared that the House of Representatives is ready to appropriate funds for the vaccine.
“I am suggesting that the DOH already incorporate in its budget proposal its estimated funding requirement for the doses the country needs to protect our people from coronavirus,” he said.
“We will have to rely on them especially considering that the Covid-19 vaccine is yet to be found, though several countries and pharmaceutical companies are racing to develop it,” he added.
He pointed out that the administration has a constitutional deadline of one month from July 27 to submit to Congress its proposed budget for 2021.
Congress is set to convene for its second regular session on July 27.
Budget and finance officials have announced that the next year’s budget ceiling would be PHP4.3 trillion, about PHP200 billion more than this year’s PHP4.1 trillion.
“However, there’s still time for the DOH and the Department of Budget and Management to make adjustments to accommodate appropriations for Covid-19 vaccines,” he said. “If the DOH needs more time after the budget proposal is submitted, they should tell us. We can wait for their estimates and we can introduce the needed adjustments while the House is considering the spending measure.”
The DOH on Thursday recorded no new death from the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) as the total cases in the country soared to 51,754.
To date, the total number of recoveries nationwide is 12,813, while the death toll remains at 1,134. (PNA)