President Rodrigo Duterte has designated Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. as “vaccine czar” to ensure that the Philippines has access to a potential Covid-19 vaccine once available.
Galvez in the chief implementor of government’s national policy against Covid-19. At the Cabinet meeting in Malacanang on Monday, Duterte said he wanted Galvez to be the sole person in charge of the purchase of vaccines.
“In the purchase of the vaccine, the negotiation, manufacture, production, or distribution, I gave that to Secretary Galvez. So only Secretary Galvez is authorized to negotiate or whatever,” yje President said.
He turned down the idea of having to form a committee to take charge of vaccine procurement which he said might lead to further delays. “I have great faith in Charlie to really come up with solutions for the problem,” he added.
Earlier, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte had appointed a vaccine czar, but refused to name him because the appointee was “hesitant” about publicizing the appointment and would rather wait for the President to make the announcement.
Roque assured that potential vaccines would be affordable to many Filipinos even if the national government could not provide free immunization to all of them. He said an estimated P20 billion will be spent to inoculate the country’s priority population which includes the poorest of the poor, police, military, and front-liners.
Duterte has repeatedly said he prefers a government-to-government agreement for the purchase of vaccines, to prevent the risk of corruption. He also said he is against purchasing vaccines from private pharmaceutical firms.
Duterte had earlier named various czars to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic concerns. Bases Conversion and Development Authority chief Vince Dizon, was appointed testing czar; Public Works Secretary Mark Villar was named isolation czar; Baguio Mayor Benjamin Magalong as contact tracing czar; and Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega as treatment czar.