Senator Christopher “Bong” Go is hopeful that the Senate will pass Senate Bill version No. 205 fast-tracking the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines as the House of Representatives approved on second reading the bill creating an indemnification fund and expediting the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines in the country’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier certified the measure as urgent. This means that the House and Senate can approve the measure on second and third reading on the same day.
During Monday’s session, the lower chamber approved House Bill No. 8648 or the “Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021” via voice voting.
“Kaya tayo naiipit dahil maraming mga requirements (sa pagkuha ng bakuna)… na hinihingi ng mga manufacturers dahil takot po sila, dahil rin sa nangyari sa Dengvaxia, na sila po ang babalikan at sila ang idedemanda. Isa rin po ito sa mga requirements ng mga suppliers (ng bakuna mula) sa ibang bansa,” Go said.
The House version reads “Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the DOH and the NTF, either through themselves jointly or in cooperation with any national government agency or instrumentality or local government unit, are authorized to procure Covid-19 vaccines, including ancillary supplies and services necessary for their storage, transport, deployment and administration, through negotiated procurement under emergency cases…”
The measure initially pushed for allowing LGUs to directly purchase Covid-19 vaccines from manufacturers.
However, lawmakers later agreed to strike out this proposal and instead opted to retain the current policy allowing LGUs to procure vaccines through a multiparty agreement with the national government and the vaccine manufacturer.
“Provinces, cities and municipalities may procure or accept donations only in cooperation with the DOH and NTF through a multiparty agreement, which shall include the DOH and the relevant supplier or donor of Covid-19 vaccine,” the measure states.
LGUs, however, cannot procure more than 50 percent of their target population for vaccination. Nonetheless, the 50 percent cap may be adjusted by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases when there is sufficient supply of vaccines as determined by DOH and NTF, according to the bill.
“Nothing in this Section shall prohibit LGUs from procuring directly from manufacturers, or its authorized distributors or suppliers once the COVID-19 vaccines become commercially available,” the bill states.
The fund will be administered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation and sourced from the 2021 national budget’s Contingent allocations.
Meanwhile, Go continues to encourage Filipinos to trust the government and Covid-19 vaccines in an effort to boost public vaccine confidence.
“Kung gusto n’yong bumalik sa normal ang ating pamumuhay. Magtiwala tayo kay Pangulong Duterte habang ginagawa naman po ng gobyerno ang lahat sa abot po ng ating makakaya,” he ended.
Moreover, the procurement, importation, donation, storage, transport, deployment, and administration of Covid-19 vaccines through the Covid-19 Vaccination Program by the government or any of its political subdivisions and by private entities shall be exempt from customs duties, value-added tax, excise tax, donor’s tax, and other fees.