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Legazpi gov’t earmarks P200 M for Covid vaccine

By Mar S. Arguelles

The Legazpi City government would initially set aside P200 million to buy Covid-19 vaccines to inoculate some 100,000 residents here, the city’s Interagency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF) announced on Thursday, Jan. 7.

Mayor Noel Rosal said that in consultation with the city’s finance committee, he has approved the allocation of P200 million for the purchase of the vaccines, the funds for which will be sourced from the the 2021 Internal Revenue Allotment (IRA).

Rosal, in a phone interview, said the budget and finance offices are already preparing the procurement program for the vaccines. The city government needs the clearance of the Department of Finance (DOF) before it could purchase the vaccines.

“We need to prepare the funds so that we can start to order for the needed vaccines so we can return back to our normal life,” he said.

The DOF clearance will allow the city government to use funds from the 20 percent development funds, the 70 percent of pre-disaster calamity funds and infrastructure budget of about P100 million, the city executive said.

The city government is expected to receive some P800 million in IRA this year. “We are expecting more once the Mandanas Doctrine is implemented,” Rosal said.

Under the Mandanas Doctrine, the Supreme Court ruled that the IRA of local government units (LGUs) would be increased by way of shares from all national taxes collected by the national governments, such as tariff and customs duties, taxes collected from the exploitation and development of the national wealth, excise taxes, taxes from VAT, and franchise taxes.

The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) comprising 140 members would meet on Jan. 12 with Social Welfare Sec. Rolando Bautista to discuss issues that would allow LGUs to order and purchase Covid-19 vaccines directly from the pharmaceutical companies accredited by the national government.

It will also ask the national IATF for a 50/50 percentage share in its vaccine procurement procedure meaning the national government would shoulder 50 percent of the cost of the vaccine while the LGU would assume the other 50 percent.

Rosal said Legazpi City has an estimated 200,000 resident that needs to be inoculated. This means it needs some P700 million to finance the vaccine procurement, which cost P3,500 per dose. If the 50/50 sharing scheme is approved, the city government’s counterpart would be P350 million.

Mayor Wilfredo Maronilla, president of the Albay chapter of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), said that LGUs would recommend that priority for vaccination should be given to frontliners, senior citizens, people with comorbidity, pregnant women, children, and the poor.

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