Lacson: Excess from ₱57.3-B loans should be tapped to vaccinate minors

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 18) — Senator Panfilo M. Lacson sees no need for the Philippine government to raise new funds and add them to the country's debt burden just to immunize Filipino minors against COVID-19.

Lacson said on Friday that out of the ₱57.3-billion loans incurred by the government for its pandemic response, there is an "excess" that could be used for vaccinating minors.

Citing figures from the Philippine Statistics Authority, the lawmaker said the government may only need to shell out ₱30.462 billion to vaccinate 68.2 million adult Filipinos this 2021.

"Figures from the PSA as of March 28 this year shows the Philippines' midyear population will reach 110,198,654 by July 1. Of this, 62% or 68.323 million are adults. If we multiply this by ₱446 per dose, including logistical costs, we will need about ₱30.472 billion to inoculate our adult Filipinos," he was quoted as saying in the statement.

"Thus the difference of ₱26.83 billion is more than enough to cover the P25-billion requirement to procure the vaccines for our minors," Lacson said.

Last Tuesday, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the Philippines may need at least ₱20 billion to vaccinate about 15 million minors aged 12-15.

READ: Funds to vaccinate minors may come from budget for vaccine-hesitant adults DOF Chief

The budget, the finance secretary said, may get from funds allocated for adults who refuse to receive coronavirus shots.

He also assured President Rodrigo Duterte that the government has "enough reserves to cover that amount of money".