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Police stations as COVID-19 vaccination centers? No fund under proposed 2021 budget, says DILG chief

The plan to convert police stations into COVID-19 vaccination centers, as envisioned by President Rodrigo Duterte, was not given an allocation under the proposed budget for 2021, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said Thursday.

During a Senate hearing on the P244-billion budget for the Department of the Interior and Local Government and its attached agencies next year, Senator Francis Tolentino asked how much was earmarked to at least prepare a storage system for the vaccines.

"Sa ngayon po ay wala sapagkat ang binigay sa aming NEP ay this amount so we have to count on that amount only but if we are given the chance, we would like to prepare for that," Año said in response.

Tolentino said there should be allocation to prepare the police stations since Duterte previously made a directive.

"Otherwise, baka sumali pa ang Department of Agriculture kasi may mga cold storage po ang Department of Agriculture, 'yung mga lalagyan ng isda, baka doon ilagay ang bakuna," the senator said.

Out of the P244 billion proposed budget of the DILG and its attached agencies, P190.5 billion will go to the Philippine National Police (PNP).

In August, Duterte ordered the PNP to clean up their precincts as he reiterated that the military and the police would take charge of the vaccination program against COVID-19.

"Hoy kayong mga police, makinig kayo sa akin ha. Linisan ninyo 'yang presinto niyo and make it ready for the day, I pray that it would come. 'Yun na lang mga police stations mas malapit tsaka marami," Duterte said.

The Food and Drug Administration recently said having a COVID-19 vaccine commercially available in the Philippines in April 2021 would be the "best case scenario." -MDM, GMA News