Gov’t yet to sign COVID-19 vaccine deals, senators told

Published February 17, 2021, 9:18 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Unlike local government units (LGUs) and the private sector, the national government has yet to perfect contracts with the pharmaceutical companies for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.

(MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

National Task Force against COVID-19 chief implementor and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. disclosed this to senators Wednesday during the plenary discussion on the bill that would expedite the procurement of coronavirus vaccines.

“Wala pa ho daw (There is none yet),” said Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara, the bill’s sponsor, as he quoted Galvez who was present in the Senate, along with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, to aid in the interpellations.

Angara said he was told, on the other hand, that local governments have already signed “a number of contracts”, even as they have not yet issued down payments for the vaccine supply.

As for the private sector, the senator was informed the private firms have perfected contracts and already made 50-percent down payment for six million doses of the vaccine.

Galvez, however, pointed out that the procurements of the LGUs and the private sector were done through tripartite agreements involving the national government. 

“So ang private sector may perfected contract, may downpayment; ang local government may perfected contract pero wala pang downpayment. Ang national government walang perfected contract, walang downpayment (So the private sector already has a perfected contract and downpayment; while local governments have perfected contracts but no downpayment. But the national government has no perfected contract or downpayments yet)?” Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said.

“Tama po, ang pinakasigurista po ‘yong national government ho (Yes, the national government was the most perfectionist of them all),” Angara confirmed.

Galvez earlier blamed the delay in the delivery of the Pfizer vaccines to the country on the lack of an indemnification law that would ensure compensation in case of adverse reactions to their products.

He said the World Health Organization-led COVAX Facility, from the which the Pfizer vaccines will be acquired, requires governments to have an indemnity mechanism.

But Recto observed that an indemnification law may “not be necessary” since LGUs and private firms managed to perfect contracts and make down payments prior the passage of such law.

“I’m just trying to wonder why we have not been able to sign any contract, the national government?…And I don’t see anything here in this bill that would hasten the procurement by the national government,” he said.

The government is looking to implement the vaccination program within the first quarter of this year, with 50 to 70 million Filipinos targeted to be given the COVID-19 vaccines.

During the plenary debates, Angara, still quoting Galvez, said the government expects to sign a “few” supply agreements with vaccine makers by the end of February.

 
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