SENATOR Joel Villanueva is confident that the newly-signed COVID-19 vaccination program law will help end the lack of vaccines “and erase the shame of our being last in the ASEAN to get one.”

Because the measure increases the number of buyers, removes taxes, relaxes procurement rules, and creates an indemnity fund, “then it will make it easier for government to close vaccine supply deals,” said Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee.

“It will make us competitive in the global vaccine race,” Villanueva said in a statement.

He urged the executive branch to use “this law that Congress wrote and the budget Congress approved” to shore up the national vaccine inventory.

“Kung meron pong 5 million vaccine doses before end of March and another 24 million doses then that would only cover 12 percent of the 110 million population at two doses per person. Kaya kulang pa po,” he said.

“Kaya gamitin po natin ang batas sa pagbili ng bakuna. Kung totoo pong meron na 161 million doses by the end of the year, well and good. If this bill is what is needed to firm up its delivery, then invoke its provisions,” Villanueva said.

Villanueva said this optimistic forecast will leave 30 million Filipinos still unvaccinated when the pandemic enters its third year.

“If they would require 60 million doses, the authority and the guarantee to get these for them are in the law,” the senator explained.

“We’ve done our part. It is now their turn to do theirs. It is time for them to deliver. May pondo at polisiya na. Insurance sa babakunahan at indemnity fund na hiningi ng mga suppliers, isinama na po namin. Naglagay na rin po tayo ng vaccination list plus vaccination card. We also removed the taxes and the procurement restrictions,” he said.

“If they’ve asked ask to throw in the kitchen sink, we would have done it so there will be no more excuses for the delay. May batas na po, bakuna na lang kulang,” Villanueva said.

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