MANILA, Nov 3 (Mabuhay) — President Rodrigo Duterte has designated national policy against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. as “vaccine czar” to ensure that the Philippines has access to a potential Covid-19 vaccine once available.
In a Cabinet meeting on Monday, Duterte said he wanted Galvez to be the sole person in charge of the purchase of vaccines.
“Pagbili ng bakuna (In the purchase of the vaccine), the negotiation, manufacture, production, or distribution, binigay ko yan kay (I gave it to) Secretary Galvez. So only Secretary Galvez is authorized to negotiate or whatever,” he said.
He turned down the idea of having to form a committee in charge of vaccine procurement as it might lead to further delays.
“Ayaw ko yang committee-committee. Matagal yan (I don’t want to have to create a committee. It will delay the process) I have great faith in Charlie to really come up with the solutions for the problem,” he added.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, in a text message to reporters, confirmed that Duterte appointed Galvez as vaccine czar.
Last Oct. 26, Roque mentioned that Duterte had appointed a vaccine czar, but refused to name him.
He said the person named vaccine czar was “hesitant” about publicizing the appointment and would rather wait for the President to make the announcement.
“Yung natalagang vaccine czar is hesitant when I asked him if I could remind the public that he has been designated vaccine czar kasi baka hindi na raw po naalala ni Presidente (The person designated as vaccine czar is hesitant when I asked him if I could remind the public that he has been designated because the President might not have remembered it) so he would like to wait for the President to make the announcement anew,” he said.
Roque earlier assured that potential vaccines would be affordable to many Filipinos even if the national government could not provide free immunization to all Filipinos.
An estimated PHP20 billion will be spent to inoculate the priority population which includes the poorest of the poor, police, military, and front-liners, he added.
Duterte said he preferred a government-to-government agreement for the purchase of vaccines, saying it would prevent the risk of corruption.
The President said he is against purchasing vaccines from private pharmaceutical companies.
Duterte earlier named various czars to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bases Conversion and Development Authority chief Vince Dizon was appointed testing czar, Public Works Secretary Mark Villar as isolation czar, Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong as contact tracing czar, and Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega as treatment czar. (MNS)