POC vaccine procurement: ‘There are a lot of moving parts’


    PHILIPPINE Olympic Committee first vice president Al Panlilio has formed a six-man team that will oversee the vaccination rollout for the country’s national athletes and coaches who will see action in the 31st Southeast Asian Games in Hanoi, Vietnam in November.

    Panlilio, who was appointed by POC President and Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino to head the program last Wednesday, said windsurfing chief Dr. George Canlas, cycling secretary general Billy Sumagui, golf secretary general Bones Floro, POC administrative officer Dinah Remolacio, and Oz dela Paz, PLDT chief procurement officer, are the members of his team.

    Panlilio’s appointment as POC vaccine czar came after the Olympic Council of Asia donated $40,000 (roughly P1.8 million) for the vaccines of the SEA Games-bound campaigners numbering around 626 in 39 disciplines who will compete in the regional meet set Nov. 21 to Dec. 2 in the Vietnamese capital.

    Philippine Sports Commission acting Executive Director Atty. Guillermo Iroy Jr. said the POC move is laudable “and we (will) endorse it to the Inter-Agency Task Force in charge of the COVID-19 pandemic once they have submitted the documents to us.”

    Panlilio said he tapped Canlas because he is one of the members of the 12-man Medical Commission of the International Basketball Federation, known by its French acronym FIBA.

    “We get a lot of inputs from Dr. Canlas because of his FIBA involvement,” said Panlilio, who is also the president of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.

    As the senior vice president of telecom giant PLDT, Panlilio said he sought the help of Dela Paz for the logistics involved in procuring the vaccine.

    “First of all, I’d like to express my gratitude, on behalf of all national athletes, to the Olympic Solidarity and Association of National Olympic Committees through the Olympic Council of Asia for their generosity and POC president Bambol Tolentino entrusting me to be the chairman for the POC’s Task Force on COVID-19 vaccine procurement,” he said.

    “The POC understands how important it is to inoculate our national athletes not just for their physical well-being but psychologically as well,” he noted.  “Getting this done at the soonest possible time will allow them to solely focus on their preparations.”

    Panlilio pointed out there were a “lot of moving parts” involved in the undertaking, including the availability of the vaccines, the brand to use, and when and where they could be administered to the athletes.

    “Although want to make sure that we can do this as possible, honestly it is very hard to tell, there are a lot of factors that we need to consider,” he explained. “For example, do we have to use the vaccines that are currently available? We don’t know when the deliveries are coming. That’s another issue.

    “Then we will have to decide where and when our athletes will be vaccinated. Will it be just one hospital that will administer the vaccine? I think it should be spread out because we just cannot burden one hospital. Is it all going to be in NCR (National Capital Region)?

    Those are some of the things we are asking.

    “After our athletes get the first jab, when do we schedule their second jab? That is another thing to consider.”

    He declined to set a time table on the vaccination drive, pointing out the POC will only have the final roster of the Philippine contingent to the SEA Games by around September.