President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed the chief implementer of the country’s National Action Plan against Covid-19, Carlito Galvez Jr., as the country’s vaccine czar.

Duterte announced Galvez’s appointment in a meeting with Cabinet officials on Monday.

“Pagbili ng bakuna, the negotiation, manufacture, production, or distribution, binigay ko ‘yan kay Secretary Galvez. So only Secretary Galvez is authorized to negotiate or whatever,” he said.

On Oct. 30, the government created the Covid-19 Immunization Program Management Organizational Structure, a task force under the National Task Force Against Covid-19 and the Department of Health, for the monitoring of the distribution of Covid-19 vaccines once they become available.

Duterte said he preferred one person to handle negotiations for the procurement of vaccines, which the government promised would be given free of charge to “the poorest 20 million Filipinos.”

“Ayaw ko yang committee-committee. Matagal ‘yan. I have great faith in (Secretary Galvez) to really come up with the solutions for the problem,” he said.

Duterte earlier expressed preference for “government-to-government” transactions in procuring Covid-19 vaccines, saying avoiding deals with private entities would prevent corruption.

Police and military officials and those who had received cash assistance from the government amid the pandemic would be prioritized in the country’s vaccination scheme.

The country has 385,400 Covid-19 cases as of Nov. 2. John Ezekiel J. Hirro