Gov't to borrow $300M for COVID-19 vaccines - Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday the government will borrow $300 million to be used to purchase vaccines against coronavirus disease.
In a taped televised meeting with some members of the Cabinet, Duterte said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III informed him that the government could borrow.
"The vaccine is here. It's being solved. It's not good to assume that there's a black market for that. But Sonny says he can borrow money...300 million dollars," he said.
Duterte expressed belief that the fund could be enough to buy the vaccines, which would first be given to the Class E or the poorest Filipinos.
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE announced recently that the vaccine that they have been developing against COVID-19 demonstrated evidence of efficacy rate above 90 percent.
With the latest development, Duterte said, "COVID is no longer frightening."
"As I have promised, the government will spend for the vaccines for all the Filipinos. That's why let's start with the poor going up. Let's start with A, B, C, D, E, the lowest is the E, those who are really poor, then let's slowly move upward to D, then C...the $300 million of Secretary Dominguez is more than enough," he said.
He said the government might no longer spend for the vaccines of those belonging to Class C, "a bracket which is pretty good for them to buy the medicine for themselves."
In the case of Classes A and B, he said they are multimillionaires who can also afford the vaccine.
Duterte acknowledged that it could be difficult to immediately avail of the COVID-19 vaccines as the countries where the medicines would be manufactured would surely avail of them first for their citizens.
He urged the Filipinos to wait for a while.
"We can borrow the money. The problem is the supply," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS