House leaders seek to allow LGUs directly purchase Covid-19 vaccines
MANILA, Philippines — House leaders are seeking to expedite the administration of Covid-19 vaccines in the country by allowing local government units (LGUs) to directly purchase the shots from manufacturers.
House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano filed House Bill No. 8648 or the “Emergency Vaccine Procurement Act of 2021,” which seeks to provide exemptions to compliance by LGUs with the procurement requirements under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.
The measure covers LGUs purchase of Covid-19 vaccines and other much-needed supplies during the pandemic.
Further, the requirement of Phase IV trials for COVID-19 medication and vaccine stipulated in the Universal Health Care Law is waived to expedite the procurement of the medication and vaccine, provided that these are recommended and approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) and other internationally recognized health agencies.
Moreover, the bill also allows provinces, cities and municipalities to make advance payment not exceeding 50 percent of the contract amount for the procurement of Covid-19 drugs and vaccines, unless otherwise directed by the President.
Following the advance payment of the supply of vaccines, the foreign manufacturer, in consideration of its agreement with the concerned LGU, shall undertake to deliver the supply of vaccines within six months from the perfection of the contract.
However, the availment of the advance payment mechanism is not an exemption to the post-transaction audit that the Commission on Audit (COA) must conduct on the LGUs, the bill states.
The COA shall submit the post-transaction audit report to both houses of Congress before the end of the quarter when the transaction is perfected through that mode of payment.
As a safety measure, provinces, cities, and municipalities may only purchase Covid-19 vaccines that are registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), or issued with an emergency use authorization status.
The bill also states that the deployment of the vaccines in every province, city, and municipality must be in accordance with the national guidelines implemented by the Department of Health and the National Task Force Against Covid-19.
The measure also excepts from import duties, taxes, and other fees the procurement, importation, storage, transport, distribution, and administration of Covid-19 vaccines by the LGUs.
Velasco said the mechanism proposed in the bill would ensure that COVID-19 vaccines are “procured and administered in an expeditious, effective, efficient and equitable manner.”
“The next crucible in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is the speedy procurement and effective administration of vaccines against the deadly disease,” Velasco said.
“Time is of the essence. Each day of delay is very costly for the government, and leaves many of our vulnerable countrymen exposed to the dangers of this disease,” he added.
Earlier, National Task Force (NTF) Against Covid-19 chief and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said that “no company”, referring to vaccine manufacturers, will directly go to the private sector or LGUs because they are not authorized to do so since “their product is only a EUA (emergency use authorization).”
Currently, LGUs may procure supplies of vaccines but through tripartite agreements with the manufacturers and national government.
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