3 cities in Region 12 keen on buying COVID-19 shots as cases top 4,000

KORONADAL CITY (MindaNews / 14 January)— Three urban centers in Soccsksargen or Region 12 are keen on buying their own vaccines to combat the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), as confirmed cases in the region breached 4,000, it was gathered Thursday.

General Santos City, the gateway to the region and the area’s major economic hub, has the biggest allocation at P200 million with the cities of Kidapawan and Tacurong each allotting P20 million for the procurement of COVID-19 shots.

Koronadal, the regional seat of government, has yet to announce its plans involving the COVID-19 vaccines.

Region 12’s COVID-19 cases on January 5, 2021 with Cotabato City and without Cotabato City on January 6, 2021. Courtesy of DOH-Region 12

Cotabato City has already been transferred to the supervision of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

For provinces, the region straddles South Cotabato, North Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and Sarangani.

GenSan Mayor Ronnel Rivera said the city, home to some 600,000 people, is procuring its own vaccines despite assurances from the national government that the city will be one of the pilot areas for the national COVID-19 vaccination program in Mindanao.

“We want to ensure that the residents of the city will be protected from the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

The mayor said the vaccination committee of the local Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases is eyeing the purchase of various COVID-19 vaccines.

Rivera said the local government has allotted P10 million for the storage facility, transport and distribution of the vaccines, on top of the P200 million for the purchase of the vaccines.

To buy the COVID-19 shots, he said the city government is in talks with the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), which has taken the lead in assisting cities in the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.

In Tacurong City, Mayor Angelo Montilla said the city, which has a population of around 100,000, is also not totally relying on the national government to protect its people from the virus.

“The local government will provide free vaccines to our targeted population,” he said.

Montilla, who attended a meeting of the LCP for COVID-19 vaccine procurement early this week, said the local government will ask funding support from the provincial government to augment its P20-million vaccine allocation, if needed.

He said the city government will forge a memorandum of agreement with the LCP for procurement arrangements of the COVID-19 vaccines.

In Kidapawan City, Mayor Joseph Evangelista said the City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council approved P20 million for the purchase of COVID-19 shots.

“We are doing this to ensure that access to available COVID-19 vaccines will be available to all Kidapaweños, especially our frontliners and the vulnerable sector,” he said.

Evangelista bared the money to procure the vaccines will come from the budget of the disaster risk reduction and management fund.

As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, confirmed COVID-19 cases in the region reached 4,008, of which 3,472 have recovered, 393 are active and 142 have died, data from the Department of Health-12 showed.

At least 43 new COVID-19 cases were recorded on Wednesday in the region, it added.  (Bong S. Sarmiento / MindaNews)