Use vaccine law to speed up purchase, delivery of COVID-19 jabs, Villanueva urges gov’t

Published February 27, 2021, 3:09 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Joel Villanueva said there should be no more excuse for delaying the purchase of coronavirus vaccines now that President Duterte has signed the “COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act”.

Sen. Joel Villanueva (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

In a statement on Saturday, February 27, Villanueva expressed confidence that the law will help address the lack of vaccines “and erase the shame of our being last in the ASEAN to get one.” 

Since the measure increases the number of buyers, removes taxes, relaxes procurement rules, and creates an indemnity fund, “then it will make it easier for government to close vaccine supply deals,” he said.

“It will make us competitive in the global vaccine race,” Villanueva added.

Duterte on Friday night signed the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act, which aims to expedite the procurement of vaccines through the local government units and private sector. The law, among several others, also includes at least P500 million indemnification fund being requested by some vaccine makers before supplying the country with their products.

Villanueva urged the executive department to use the law to shore up the country’s vaccine inventory as he raised concern the government’s planned purchases might not be enough to vaccinate the country’s population.

“Kung meron pong (If there will be) five million vaccine doses before end of March and another 24 million doses then that would only cover 12 percent of the 110 million population at two doses per person. Kaya kulang pa po (That’s why it’s not enough),” he said.

“Kung totoo pong meron na (If it’s true that there will be) 161 million doses by the end of the year, well and good. If this bill is what is needed to firm up its delivery, then invoke its provisions,” he added.

Villanueva said Congress has “done [its] part” in providing the necessary funds and policies to speed up the government’s procurement of the vaccines.

“It is time for them to deliver.  May pondo at polisiya na (There is already a fund and a policy). Insurance sa babakunahan at indemnity fund na hiningi ng mga suppliers, isinama na po namin (We included it). Naglagay na rin po tayo ng (We also put a) vaccination list plus vaccination card.  We also removed the taxes and the procurement restrictions,” he said. 

“If they’ve asked ask to throw in the kitchen sink, we would have done it so there will be no more excuses for the delay. May batas na po, bakuna na lang kulang (We now have a law, all we need are the vaccines),” Villanueva stressed.