Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia announced that the City of Bacolod has made an advance initial payment of P31 million to AstraZeneca for the 650,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines it contracted with the pharmaceutical company.
“The initial payment practically consummates our contract for these critical vaccine supplies. We wanted to close the agreement as early as we could and that is why we made the payment ahead of the February 24 deadline,” Leonardia said in a press release.
The mayor said this would ensure the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccines starting the 3rd Quarter.
The mayor also lauded the “dedication” of City Administrator Em Ang, City Legal Officer Atty. Joselito Bayatan, and Acting City Treasurer Arlene Memoria in making sure that the city beats the deadline.
Memoria said the City has deposited P31,219,500 with AstraZeneca Monday [Feb. 22], which represented 20 percent of the total cost of the 650,000 vaccines from AstraZeneca, which has also acknowledged receipt of the initial payment.
It can be recalled that President Rodrigo Duterte signed on Feb. 18 Presidential Memorandum No. 51 granting authority to local governments to make advance payments exceeding the 15 percent limit for the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccines.
The Memorandum Order comes after the League of Cities of the Philippines, led by Leonardia as national president, had asked the President for an executive order allowing the LGUs to make advance payments to drug manufacturers they contracted ahead of a February 24 deadline.
“We are very thankful to President Rodrigo Duterte for the timely issuance of Memorandum Order 51 that will allow cities to make advance payments for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines. This has a direct impact, especially to cities which had earlier signed the Multilateral Agreement with the Department of Health (DOH), National Task Force Against COVID-19, and AstraZeneca. But this will, more importantly, benefit all LGUs similarly situated.”
“This is definitely a giant leap towards accelerating the implementation of our local vaccination programs. Bacolod City is among the top 5 direct beneficiaries along with Davao, Quezon, Makati and Manila for having the biggest volume of allocated vaccine supply,” the mayor said.
Leonardia also acknowledged the hard work of Vaccine Czar and Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., vaccine czar and chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19; Senator Bong Go, chair of the Senate Committee on Health; and Commission on Audit (COA) chair Michael Aguinaldo.
Bacolod was among the first cities to negotiate for its own COVID-19 vaccines. It already has reserved 650,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines to kick off its vaccination program, making it among the top five cities in the country with the biggest vaccine orders, together with Davao City, Quezon City, Makati City, and the City of Manila.
Aside from AstraZeneca, Leonardia is also negotiating with other pharmaceutical companies that are developing COVID-19 vaccines.
Last Feb. 5, Bacolod held its vaccination simulation exercises at the Barangay Villamonte gymnasium. Observers from the Department of Health–Western Visayas (DOH-6) commended the City’s vaccination process for its smooth flow and observance of health protocols.
Moreover, Bacolod was among the first LGUs in the country to establish a COVID-19 Vaccination Council (CoVaC) created by virtue of Executive Order No. 83 issued by Leonardia on Dec. 22, 2020.
“It is the highest priority of the city government to ensure that the lives of Bacolodnons are protected from COVID-19. This is the preamble of our CoVaC executive order. We must make sure we have accessibility and adequacy of vaccine supply,” Leonardia had said.*/CITY PIO