Duterte urged to certify indemnity fund bill for COVID-19 vaccines as urgent
MANILA, Philippines — Cabinet members have asked President Rodrigo Duterte to certify as urgent a bill seeking to establish an indemnity fund for those getting COVID-19 vaccines, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Monday.
In the president’s pre-recorded briefing that aired late at night, Galvez, who heads the government‘s vaccination program, said the speed of the procurement was now in the hands of the Senate — particularly Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go, chair of the Committee on Health and Demography.
“That’s why we have a communication, Mr. President, that these bills should be certified as urgent. That’s our recommendation,” Galvez said in Filipino.
Duterte responded by asking for the documents.
Go, who was present during Duterte’s briefing, also said that the bill had already reached the committee level.
“Secretary Galvez and I have talked so that you can certify it as urgent this week,” Go told Duterte.
The bills will create clauses in agreements between the government and pharmaceutical companies that will indemnify vaccine recipients in case they experience adverse effects.
Galvez said he had requested Sotto and Go to prioritize the indemnification clause, along with the approval of local government units of advance market commitment on the vaccines.
Last Jan. 26, Sen. Nancy Binay filed Senate Bill No. 2015 seeking to put up the indemnification fund that will be subsidized by pharmaceutical companies supplying the government with vaccines.
In turn, the government would craft a set of guidelines and an agreement, which would be required before it formally accepts the vaccines.
Although the bill has not been approved, Galvez said immunization could start sometime late in February or in March — when the first batch of one to three million doses of vaccines are expected to arrive.
According to Galvez, the documentation has been accomplished, and all that was needed was for an indemnification agreement to be signed with the pharmaceutical companies.
He also assured that minor snags in the storage and rollout of the vaccines had been addressed, like having additional third-party storage facilities provided by local pharmaceutical companies, which can address the low-temperature requirement of the vaccines.
The expenses for the third-party storage facilities would also be included in the loans that the government would acquire for the COVID-19 vaccine procurement.
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