Local government units (LGUs) cannot procure Covid-19 vaccines on their own, so they must coordinate with the national government their planned purchase and roll-out of vaccines, officials said on Thursday.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque said LGUs can only purchase vaccines via tripartite deals that involve vaccine manufacturers and the national government.

“Wala pong LGU na makakabili ng bakuna on their own, kinakailangan pa rin ang national government,” he said in a Palace briefing.

The cities of Manila and Pasig were among the first LGUs to open registration for the vaccines.

Roque said the government welcomed the LGUs’ initiative to allot portions of their budgets for Covid-19 vaccines.

“Bakit naman tayo tatanggi doon sa pondo na nilaan na para sa bakuna, samantalang ang plano natin ay umutang pa para pambili ng bakuna. Siyempre po, money talks. Kumbaga, kung nandiyan po ang pera nila at nilalaan nila iyon para sa bakuna, bakit naman hihindi ang national government,” he said.

In a statement, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said LGUs’ efforts to procure vaccines were “commendable, but the proper procedure must be followed to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure standardized pricing.”

Año also disclosed that the national government was on track to purchase some 184 million doses from several manufacturers.

He explained that LGUs can do initial negotiations with pharmaceutical companies but the agreement must be tripartite.

The tripartite setup, Año said, would guarantee that the prices of Covid-19 vaccines are standardized and that there will be no duplication of vaccinated individuals. John Ezekiel J. Hirro