Caritas Philippines, the social action arm of the Philippine Catholic Church, has renewed its appeal for the government to expedite the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccine and make it available for all.
In echoing the appeal of Pope Francis, Caritas Philippines urged the government to make the COVID-19 vaccine available and accessible for all. (Read: 3 Ways Caritas PH Is Giving Support to Filipinos in Need)
Bishop Jose Collin Bagaforo of Kidapawan, the national director of Caritas Philippines, has made the call after the controversial vaccination of members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s security team despite the lack of regulatory approval.
According to Bishop Bagaforo, “it was irresponsible to allow the breach of the regulatory process.” He said that the “government is actually tolerating such imprudent and unauthorized action, even if PSG (Presidential Security Group) is saying the vaccines were donated.”
As of writing, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the regulatory body responsible for the approval of the vaccine for the country, has not passed any COVID-19 vaccine yet. The FDA warned against the use of unauthorized vaccines noting that there was no guarantee on the safety, quality, and efficacy of the drug that has not undergone technical evaluation. (Read: Why Do Food Products Need an FDA Approval?)
Free Vaccine for All
President Duterte has earlier said that it’s the government’s goal to provide free vaccines to all 113 million Filipinos. However, the Department of Finance said that they are still to source out P73.2 billion pesos to pay for the vaccination of 60 million population. (Read: Metro Manila Mayors Roll Out Plans to Vaccinate Residents for Free)
Fr. Antonio Labiao Jr, Caritas Philippines’ executive secretary, urged the government to speed up all regulatory processes so that the vaccine will be available as soon as possible. He also stressed that while there are a list of priority sectors to be vaccinated first, the government must ensure that majority of Filipinos will have access to the vaccines when it is already available.