City mayors to meet nat’l execs to discuss vaccine procurement as more local governments seal contract with AstraZeneca

CITY mayors are set to meet with national officials online on January 12 to discuss the procurement of vaccines as several local government units (LGUs), mostly cities and some provinces, have already signed contracts with pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca Plc. Several other LGUs have also allocated funds from their budgets for the purchase of vaccines against the coronavirus. Bacolod City Mayor Evelio R. Leonardia, president of the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), said national officials in charge of the country’s vaccination program will attend the meeting. “Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. has confirmed his attendance to the meeting and will present the national government’s roadmap to coordinate and assist LGUs in securing vaccines,” Mr. Leonardia said in a statement. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Rolando Enrique D. Domingo is also expected to attend to provide updates on the emergency use authorization for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines, he added.

“Those who can afford as a team player should be sharing each’s resources. Those who cannot should be assisted by the national government,” Mr. Leonardia said over state-run Radyo Pilipinas on Monday. The LCP will also request for the group’s inclusion in the membership of the national COVID-19 inter-agency task force (IATF) to ensure that national and local vaccination programs are aligned. Bacolod is among the local governments that already signed a tripartite agreement with AstraZeneca and the national government. More than half of the 17 LGUs in Metro Manila have inked a similar deal with AstraZeneca, reserving varying volumes of doses. Outside the capital, among those that have secured advanced orders are the cities of Baguio, Dagupan, Ormoc, Iloilo, Zamboanga, and the province of Iloilo. Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque on Monday said local governments won’t be able to procure vaccines without the “signature” or approval of the national government.  “When it comes to vaccine procurement and inoculation, LGUs should follow the policies set by the IATF,” he said in a press briefing. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

P2P buses resume in Zamboanga’s major cities

POINT-to-point (P2P) buses between the main urban areas in the Zamboanga Peninsula Region will start operations on January 16, covering the cities of Zamboanga, Pagadian, and Dipolog and Ipil town. The management of the Integrated Bus Terminal in Zamboanga City, the regional center, released on Monday the guidelines for travelers and fare rates. Under the P2P scheme, buses are prohibited from picking up or unloading passengers anywhere “in between the point of origin and point of destination.” Passengers will be strictly required to present all documentary set by the local government of the destination as well as purchase tickets at least two days before the travel date. “No walk-in passengers” will be allowed, except in emergency cases such as for medical care. Minimum health protocols such as wearing of face mask and shields will also be in effect. — MSJ

Enough water supply for Metro Manila, nearby provinces in summer — NWRB

METRO Manila and its nearby provinces would have adequate water supply during the coming summer months given the current high level of Angat Dam, the National Water Resources Board (NWRB) said on Monday. “With the current level of around at elevation 212.2 meters (m) of the Angat Dam, we will have sufficient water supply for Metro Manila and adjoining provinces during the summer season and until the projected onset of the rainy season around May or June,” NWRB Executive Director Sevillo D. David, Jr. told BusinessWorld in an interview via Viber. Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) Administrator Emmanuel B. Salamat, in a separate advisory on Monday, also assured of adequate supply during the dry season. “With the favorable projection of our water level at Angat Dam and… by mitigating measures to address the water requirements of Metro Manila and other areas like Bulacan and Rizal that comprise the MWSS service areas, we can assure of sufficient water supply for summer 2021,” Mr. Salamat said. The capital region suffered raw water supply shortage in 2019. Angat Dam, the main source for the capital, recorded a normal high water level of 212 meters (m), and a reservoir water level of 212.21 meters as of Monday morning. — Angelica Y. Yang

Abalos takes oath as new MMDA Chair

FORMER Mandaluyong City mayor Benjamin S. Abalos, Jr. was sworn into office as the new chairperson of the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) at noon on Monday in Malacañang. “We vow to support his leadership, plans and programs in the pursuit of efficient and quality public service,” MMDA General Manager Jose  Arturo S. Garcia, Jr. said in a statement on Monday. Mr. Abalos succeeds the late Danilo D. Lim, who passed away last week. The MMDA is tasked to plan and implement metro-wide services and programs in the capital region, which is composed of 16 cities and one municipality. Mr. Abalos served as local chief of Mandaluyong from 1998 to 2004, and from 2007 to 2016. He was also elected as the city’s congressional representative from 2004 to 2007. He also served as president of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines and League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) from 2007 to 2010. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza