ARTA checks alleged ‘lagay’ system in vaccine projects

Published May 10, 2021, 3:46 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The Anti-Red Tape Authority is currently looking into a report that some pharmaceutical companies willing to set up vaccine manufacturing facilities have experienced extortion.

ARTA Director General Jeremiah Belgica was informed about this last Friday during his guesting at “The Virtual Presser” with foreign media hosted by the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Global Media Affairs.


One of the reporters present at the press briefing relayed that his previous interview with an economic group revealed that about three pharmaceutical firms backed out from putting up vaccine plants in the country after they were asked to pay illegal fees.

As a response, DG Belgica assured prompt action on the issue.

“Those type of reports are one of the things that…we are here for,” he said.

“[F]or the questions asking for grease money or _lagay_…please, we’re very much interested to know more about this and pursue an investigation,” the ARTA czar added.

Currently, ARTA is among the lead agencies working for the establishment of local vaccine manufacturers’ green lane. It will soon release a Joint Memorandum Circular together with the Department of Trade and Industry, Department of Health, Food and Drug Administration, Department of Science and Technology, and National Task Force-COVID-19.

“[T]he Joint Memorandum Circular for the green lane is already there and very soon we will be rolling this out. The idea is to have a one stop shop and have everything finished in 7 to 20 days all of the applications from the LGUs to the different government agencies,” he noted.

According to the ARTA Director General, at least two companies are “almost ready” for a fill-and-finish type of plant.

“They would import it (vaccines) in bulk and they would fill-and-finish it in this manufacturing plant,” he explained. With this, ARTA estimates vaccine manufacturing plants to be put up in 10 months once all conditions are met.