Right to information prevails over non-disclosure agreements – solon

Published January 20, 2021, 4:35 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The people’s right to public information should prevail over the non-disclosure agreements entered into by the government with the pharmaceutical companies, considering that the funds being used for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines are people’s money, Ako Bicol party-list Rep. Alfredo Garbin Jr.,  chairperson of the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments, said.

 Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. has refused to divulge the price of COVID-19 vaccines following the confidentiality disclosure agreements inked between the government and the producers of vaccines. 

He said  the people’s right to information, which is guaranteed by the Constitution, should override these non-disclosure pacts. 

“Hindi puwedeng itago ito (This cannot be hidden)  on the guise of non-disclosure agreement because this does not include national security or trade secrets. This includes public health and national interest of the country,” he told reporters during a hybrid press conference.

“So I think the main consideration here is the right of the Filipino people on the right information given the fact that what is at stake here is really the public health and the money that’s being used borne out of public taxes.”

Galvez said since CDA covers the prices of vaccines, it cannot be publicly disclosed.

He warned that disclosure of vaccines’ prices would jeopardize the Philippines’ procurement of 148 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines.

Garbin noted that some P2 billion under the 2021 General Appropriations Act will be used for the purchase of vaccines, and some funds will be sourced from loans to complete the rollout of the government’s vaccination program. 

“Magbabayad pa rin ang taong bayan. So hindi puwedeng isangga doon ‘yung non-disclosure agreement ng gobyerno at ng mga pharmaceutical companies. And that right of public information is always guaranteed by the Constitution. So siguro dapat ito ang mangibabaw dito,” he stressed. 

(The people will still pay. We cannot use the non-disclosure agreement between the government and the pharmaceutical companies as an excuse. And that right of public information is always guaranteed by the Constitution. So this should prevail)