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Solon cites need to extend Bayanihan

A PARTY-LIST lawmaker on Friday raised the need to extend the effect of Republic Act (RA) No. 11494, otherwise known as the “Bayanihan to Recover As One Act” as he noted that the funding provision in the present law might lapse long before an effective coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) vaccine is developed and becomes available to the public.

In filing House Bill (HB) 8017, Puwersa ng Bayaning Atleta (PBA) party-list Rep. Jericho Nograles said there is a need to ensure the continuity of essential response and recovery interventions with respect to the COVID-19 vaccine and procurement must not be bogged down due to lack of funding.

Before any fund is disbursed for any government purchase, it must be covered by a pertinent appropriation. In the case of Republic Act (RA) No. 11494, the procurement of a COVID-19 medication and vaccine has been determined to lapse three months after December 19, 2020.

Nograles wants the deadline to be extended until December 21, 2022 as he noted that by then, COVID-19 medication and vaccine has been fully rolled out for public use.

“There are more than 100 potential COVID-19 vaccines that are in the phases of clinical trial and testing. If successfully developed, these vaccines may put an end to the spread of the deadly virus at the earliest possible time. The goal of equitable and immediate access to the COVID-19 vaccine must be ascertained,” Nograles said.

He said that while there are pharmaceutical companies who have declared that they are already in the advanced stage in their research to develop an effective vaccine against the COVID-19, it might take a while before these can be administered for mass inoculation.

For good measure, Nograles said the government must have continuous access to funding to ensure that the Philippines will have the money to buy the vaccine without the need of enacting a new “ Bayanihan As One” law.

“While waiting for a safe COVID-19 vaccine, there is a necessity to extend the validity of paragraphs (d), (s) and (cc) of Section 4 and Section 12 of the “Bayanihan to Recover As One Act” until December 31, 2022 to ensure the continuity of the essential COVID-19 response and recovery interventions,” said Nograles. Ryan Ponce Pacpaco