Bill prohibits LGUs from buying vaccines
Lawmakers at the House of Representatives have removed from the bill of Speaker Lord Allan Velasco the power to allow local government units (LGUs) to directly procure COVID-19 vaccines from manufacturers.
Under the amended version of House Bill No. 8648 contained in the committee report of the House committee on appropriations, LGUs “may purchase, only in cooperation with the DOH (Department of Health) and NTF (National Task Force) Against COVID-19, through a multiparty agreement which shall include the DOH and the relevant supplier of COVID-19 vaccine or ancillary supplies or services.”
The original version of the bill, also known as the Emergency Vaccine Procurement Act of 2021, said LGUs “may directly purchase vaccines for the protection against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and secure other goods and services necessary for their storage, transport, distribution and administration, as the need arises in the most judicious, economical and expeditious manner.”
The amendments to the measure were finalized on Wednesday after it was brought to the plenary for its period of debates and amendments.
Quirino Rep. Junnie Cua, author of House Bill No. 8649, which was consolidated with Velasco’s bill, told reporters on Thursday that the DOH and the NTF made a “very valid, very logical,” concern that pharmaceutical companies would be overwhelmed if all the provinces in the Philippines would procure the vaccines on their own.
“It’s better that there will be someone who will negotiate. That would be the role of the national government,” he said.
To expedite the procurement process of COVID-19 vaccines, the bill allows the DOH and the NTF to engage in “negotiated procurement under emergency cases.
If passed into law, the measure would waive the phase 4 clinical trial requirements for COVID-19 medication and vaccines to expedite the procurement process.
The bill also provides an indemnification fund for individuals who would experience “adverse events” after being inoculated.
Under the bill, LGUs are to make advanced payments for the purchase of vaccines but would be limited to a maximum of 50 percent of the total amount.
Certified as urgentIn a statement on Thursday, Velasco welcomed President Duterte’s memorandum allowing LGUs to make advance payments for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.
“This is an important step in our fight to defeat the spread of COVID-19 as this allows the speedy procurement of the most effective vaccines by LGUs cognizant that any delay would have serious consequences on how we move forward from this pandemic,” Velasco said.
Mr. Duterte has also certified as urgent the bill providing for the indemnification of people who will have adverse effects from being vaccinated against COVID-19.
These measures are expected to facilitate the purchase and delivery of much-needed vaccines to the country.
“We are confident that both documents would ensure the timely and efficient implementation of the government’s COVID-19 mass vaccination program,” said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Jr.
Under the memorandum order, LGUs could exceed the 15-percent limit on advance payments for their vaccine purchases, said Roque.
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