New laws on vaccine indemnification, tax exemption needed — Galvez

Published January 18, 2021, 5:29 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. has asked lawmakers to include in the third Bayanihan law (Bayanihan 3) an “indemnification clause”  to ensure that individuals will be compensated for vaccine-related injuries, and a provision seeking to exempt the procurement of vaccines from tariff and custom duties.

Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr.

He made the call during the House Committee on Health’s hearing on the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program, after Bayan Muna partylist Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate asked who will compensate those who experienced adverse effects from the vaccine. 

“Sa COVAX natin, lahat ng bansa we signed for the indemnification clause na walang sasagutin ang ating mga manufacturer unless it is willful neglect at mayroon silang pagkaukulang. Kaya ang hinihiling namin is magkaroon ng legislation for the indemnification,” Galvez said. 

(In our COVAX, all countries, we signed for the indemnification clause which provides that a vaccine manufacturer will not be liable unless there is willful neglect and there are lapses. That is why we are asking for legislation on indemnification.) 

He said under COVAX, which is the vaccines pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, the Philippines is required to enact an indemnification law. COVAX is led by Gavi, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and World Health Organization (WHO).

“Alalahanin natin na mayroon tayong 40 million doses na nakasalalay po dito.” (Let’s keep in mind that 40 million doses hinge on this.) 

“Mas maganda sana na magkaroon ng Bayanihan 3 na isama na rin yung indemnification clause plus ‘yung tariff and custom duties ay mawala na rin para tuloy tuloy po diretso sa warehouse yung mga products,” Galvez said. 

(It is better to have Bayanihan 3 wherein we can include there the indemnification clause as well as the scrapping of the tariff and customs duties so that products will go straight to the warehouse.) 

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Director General Rolando Enrique Domingo noted that countries such as United States and United Kingdom have their respective vaccine indemnification laws to look after the general welfare during vaccinations. 

“Isa po siyang policy ng maraming bansa sa buong mundo, yun nga po baka may panahon na rin po sana na pag-isipan din natin,” he said. (It is a policy of many countries in the world, maybe it is about time, we can look into it.)

“Di lang para sa COVID-19 kundi para sa lahat ng mga vaccination programs.” (Not just for COVID-19, but also for all vaccination programs.)

Zarate said since the government is expected to roll out its vaccination program by February, the Executive should submit to Congress its proposed measure, which will be certified as urgent by the President. 

“Mayroon na kaming sinumite. Nakafile na po sa House of Representatives, pero yung iba pang policy recommendations namin, hopefully by tomorrow, we can submit it to the committee,” Duque said.

(We already submitted it. It is already filed in the House of Representatives, but our other policy recommendations, hopefully by tomorrow, we can submit it to the committee.)