No anomaly in vaccine deal – Duterte

Published January 19, 2021, 1:42 AM

by Genalyn Kabiling

Gov’t saved $700 M in negotiating millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses

President Duterte dispelled suspicion of any irregularity in the government’s COVID19 vaccine procurement. 

“Walang magic diyan (There is no magic there),” he assured during his public address Monday night. 

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on January 18, 2021.

He went as far as offering to the “doubting Thomases” the handling of the vaccine plans if they want.

He said they could even form a committee but would only realize the need to comply with the same confidentiality clause in the supply deals. 

In the televised address, the President rallied behind vaccine czar Carlito Galvez in defending the compliance with the non-disclosure agreement (NDA) included in the preliminary contract signed with companies like the vaccine manufacturer. 

“I don’t know why are you so occupied sa mga corruption. Now, maghanap kayo hindi dito, baka sa inyo. Baka sa departamento ninyo, hindi dito sa akin (Now, you’re looking for corruption. Not here. Maybe it exists in your department, not mine),” he said. 

In an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the government has so far secured millions of vaccine doses from suppliers like China’s Sinovac and Serum Institute of India. 

Vaccine supplies from other manufacturers are also being ironed out. 

Duterte also said the vaccine supply deal would be final only after he and Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez have reviewed and approved the proposal. 

“The pricing and the paper will not be final until it is reviewed by the Secretary of Finance, kasi siya ang magbayad, pati ako (because he will pay as well as me),” Duterte said. 

Galvez, who has been negotiating the country’s vaccine supplies, assured that the supply deals are “clean.” 

Gov’t saved $700 M 

Galvez said the government managed to save $700 million in negotiating for the country’s supply of millions of vaccine doses at an “almost no profit” price. 

In a meeting with President Duterte and some Cabinet members, Galvez reported that they were able to negotiate for a lower vaccine price that brought the country’s total secured supply to 148 million doses from the original 70 million. 

But the retired military general said he is bound by the confidentiality agreement with the manufacturers abroad, especially when it comes to the negotiated price of the vaccine. 

He said the government must respect such an agreement, otherwise, it might lose integrity and credibility before the drug manufacturers and eventually lose the supply deals. 

Duterte claimed that keeping silent about the price in a supply agreement has been an industry practice. 

He noted that the vaccine price cannot be revealed since the manufacturer negotiates with other countries scrambling to buy for supplies, too. 

At present, the law of supply and demand prevails in securing the global vaccine supply. 

“They cannot reveal the price kasi it will result (in) malugi ‘yung iba. In some countries, malugi sila. Hindi pare-pareho. Gusto nila halos magkadikit-dikit. Depende kasi. May mga ahente pa. Magbayad ka pa sa ahente,” he said.