By Corina Oliquino

MANILA —  On a Facebook post, Cavite Gov. Jonvic Remulla replied to how the government should administer to 110 million Filipinos the COVID-19 vaccine once it becomes available.

He said authorities “should be ready to respond” and have foresight as each person requires two shots of the drug.

Remulla added that the government should also apply the lessons it learned from the release of cash aid to the most vulnerable families, which was filled with reports of health protocol violations in some areas.

“How do we do it without creating the least amount of panic and hysteria? Who gets it first and how do people get it quickly enough?” Remulla said on Facebook, quoting Sorsogon Gov. Francis “Chiz” Escudero’s “we should expect more from the government” statement.

“If our hands are full in the containment strategy, then our best minds should have the foresight and prepare for the arrival of the vaccine,” he added.

According to a report by ABS-CBN News, Cavite will implement an ID system to prepare for the vaccine distribution, as well as the opening of three coronavirus testing laboratories. Including a laboratory that can run 3,000 tests a day that will open at the De La Salle University Dasmariñas to serve CALABARZON region’s most populous province.

“The good news is we are now crafting a pro-active and viable plan for Cavite. Now, let us all come together and create a plan for the country,” said Remulla.

PITC can import COVID-19 vaccine for the private sector

In another report by GMA News, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Sec. Ramon Lopez said on July 31 during a televised Laging Handa briefing, the private sector can place their COVID-19 vaccine order through the state-run Philippine International Trading Corp. (PITC), tasked to facilitate the purchase of vaccines for the government.

“Ang private sector pwede rin makibili… padadaan sa PITC para makakuha tayo ng volume purchasing, volume discount,” Lopez said, noting the government is capable of financing ₱20 billion worth of COVID-19 vaccines expected to be ready by December.

The fund will make the vaccines free for 20 million Filipinos at $10 per dose, administered by the Department of Health upon purchase and turn-over by PITC.

“Kaya po pinapadaan sa PITC para sila po ang in effect sila ang directly manghihiram sa DBP (Development Bank of the Philippines) at Landbank— ‘yung sinasabi na may pondo na magpapahiram sa isang government corporation who will execute the importation for the buying nung mga vaccines na ito,” Lopez said.

“The number, brand, volume will all come from the requirements of DOH,” he said.

“Priority muna is the poorest of the poor… but nobody is preventing anyone from importing the vaccine,” Lopez said.

COVID-19 vaccinations at police stations

On his late-night address to the country on August 2, President Rodrigo Duterte addressed the ‘distress call’ of frontline health workers against the country’s “losing” COVID-19 response.

“The Philippine healthcare system is already overwhelmed and the healthcare workers are united in sounding a distress signal to the nation,”   Dr Mario Panaligan, president of the Philippine College of Physicians, said in a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte, sent through Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr, chief implementer of the government’s national policy on the pandemic and Health Sec. Francisco Duque III.

The letter, dated August 1, is supported by at least 80 medical groups, Philippine College of Physicians president Dr Mario Panaligan said “the Philippine healthcare system is already overwhelmed, and the healthcare workers are united in sounding a distress signal to the nation.”

The group is calling for a two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Mega Manila to win against COVID-19.

However, Duterte urged health workers to do some “soul searching” if they will only complain about the COVID-19 crisis.

“We are not competent here because we are not doctors… Kayong makatulong sana at wala kayong ginagawa kung magreklamo, what can I do?” Duterte said.

“Do not try to demean government. You are criticizing, you demean the government, your own government,” he said.

Meanwhile, Duterte also said that a COVID-19 vaccine, once available, should be administered to Filipinos to police stations.

“I will give the vaccine to the police and the military. All of you police officers, clean up your stations and make them ready for the day. I pray that it would come. Let’s make it available at police stations,” Duterte said, according to The Philippine Daily Inquirer.

“(The police stations) are nearer and there are many of them. The only requirement to avail the vaccine is to be a Filipino citizen, nothing more,” he added. “If you want to have an overdose of vaccine, go ahead.”

On his fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July 27, Duterte said he asked China to give the Philippine priority and credit when it comes up with a vaccine for COVID-19, noting the vaccine was a “global need and everyone will go for it.”

“About four days ago, I made a plea to President Xi Jinping that if they have the vaccine, can they allow us to be one of the first or if it’s needed, if we have to buy it, that we will be granted credit so that we can normalize as fast as possible,” Duterte said according to ABS-CBN News.

Currently, Chinese firms are responsible for two of the three “most advanced” coronavirus vaccines which entered phase three trials or large-scale testing on humans, the last step ahead of regulatory approval.

As of August 3, DoH has logged 3,226 new COVID-19 cases bringing the total number of infections in the country to 106,330.