Unlike gov’t, LGUs and private firms already have ‘perfected’ Covid-19 jabs deals
MANILA, Philippines — Unlike the national government, local government units (LGUs) and the private sector have already perfected contracts for the supply of Covid-19 vaccines, senators learned Wednesday.
During the interpellation on a bill seeking to expedite LGU procurement of anti-coronavirus jabs, Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto inquired if LGUs and the private sector have signed perfected contracts with vaccine manufacturers.
Senator Sonny Angara, who is sponsoring the bill, said he was told by officials there are LGUs and private companies that already have perfect contracts for the acquisition of Covid-19 shots.
“I was told there are a number of contracts which have been signed by local governments,” Angara said, noting that LGUs have yet to make a downpayment for the procured vaccine doses.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III were present in the session hall and seated behind Angara to relay to the senator information and answers to the questions of senators interpellating.
In the private sector, Angara said he was told that private firms have already signed perfected contracts for 6 million vaccine doses.
The private sector has also made a 50-percent down payment for the said supply, he noted.
Angara stressed contracts signed by LGU were under a tripartite agreement between a vaccine maker and the national government.
Private firms are allowed to buy Covid-19 vaccines but only through tripartite agreements with drug manufacturers and the national government.
Recto then raised the point that the national government has yet to perfect a contract with any Covid-19 vaccine supplier.
“So ang private sector may perfected contract, may downpayment, ang local governments may perfected contract pero wala pang downpayment. Ang national government, walang perfected contract, walang downpayment,” Recto said.
In response, Angara said: “Tama po, ang pinakasigurista po ‘yung national government.”
Earlier, Galvez attributed a delay in the delivery of vaccine doses from American drugmaker Pfizer, which the Philippines will receive under the World Health Organization-led COVAX facility, to hitches in ironing out the indemnity agreement.
Before this, Galvez has stressed the need to pass a measure that will provide a vaccine indemnification fund to compensate recipients who may suffer from Covid-19 vaccine side effects.
He said such a measure will help the Philippines in its quest for enough doses of Covid-19 vaccines because it will give confidence to drug manufacturers supplying the government with the jabs.
But in citing the perfected contracts of some LGUs and private firms, Recto said the lack of an indemnification law should not be the reason why the national government has yet to sign any supply agreement.
“I’m trying to wonder why we have not been able to sign any contract…If I read the papers, ang latest na binibintangan ay wala tayong indemnification law,” Recto said.
“If the private sector and the local government, may perfected contract and the private sector may downpayment already, kahit wala pa ‘yung indemnification, so hindi dahilan ‘yung indemnification isn’t it?” he added.
Angara said he was told by Galvez that indemnification was a “sticky point” with the COVAX facility and Pfizer.
Earlier Wednesday, Galvez said the Philippines has already signed and submitted to the COVAX facility the indemnity agreement for the Pfizer and AstraZeneca Covid-19 jabs that are anticipated to arrive this month.
Galvez, in a previous Senate hearing, has assured that the Philippine government has already “locked in” vaccine doses through “term sheets” with different vaccine makers.
The government targets to roll out its Covid-19 mass immunization program within the first quarter of the year, eyeing to vaccinate at least 70 million Filipinos to achieve herd immunity and significantly arrest the transmission of SARS-CoV-2, which causes the potentially fatal respiratory illness.
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