Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III should disclose the prices of COVID-19 vaccines and submit to the Senate Committee of the Whole the supply agreements the Philippines has signed with vaccine manufacturers for scrutiny.
Drilon made the call ahead of the Senate’s hearing on Tuesday, June 14 on the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program and its utilization of the P82.5-billion budget for the procurement of vaccines.
“We are asking Secretary Galvez and Secretary Duque to send to the us copies of the supply agreements that have been signed. These are not confidential. Invoking the non-disclosure agreement will not hold anymore as these are considered public funds because they have been signed. These are public records,” Drilon said in an interview on DZMM’s Teleradyo.
“These are also not considered intelligence fund that you have to require a closed envelope system. The Commission on Audit (COA) will audit it eventually and they cannot hide it,” he said.
Drilon said the government should be transparent about the cost and terms of the supply agreements, particularly on the price of the vaccines per dose.
He reiterated such information will boost the public’s confidence on the government’s vaccination program.
“Filipinos need to know that we have a steady supply of vaccines. The entry of vaccines are so slow,” he lamented.
“They need to know the price of the vaccines, because, ultimately, it is the taxpayers that will pay for the vaccines. It is the public’s right to know,” he pointed out.
Last June, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) told Senate probers that the government was able to secure an indicative total of 147 million doses from vaccine manufacturers and the COVAX facility. This is on top of the around 24.9 million doses procured by the private sector and local government units (LGUs) and the 1 million doses donated by the Chinese government.
Drilon said he is open to request for additional funding for vaccine procurement as long as the government can first fully account the P82.5-billion budget earmarked for this.