House OKs indemnity fund bill for Covid-19 vaccines on 2nd reading
MANILA, Philippines — 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.
During Monday’s session, the lower chamber approved House Bill No. 8648 or the “Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021” via voice voting.
The measure authorizes the national government, local government units, and the private sector, in cooperation with the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF), to procure safe and effective vaccines “in an expeditious, efficient, and equitable manner.”
“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 states.
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.
“LGUs may directly accept donation of vaccines as long as they have been procured through a multiparty agreement prescribed under this Act,” it adds.
The private sector is also allowed to procure vaccines in cooperation with the DOH and NTF through a multiparty agreement.
“Any such vaccines, supplies or services procured by private entities shall be for the sole and exclusive use of such companies, without prejudice to the multiparty agreement,” the bill states.
The bill likewise creates the Covid-19 National Vaccine Indemnity Fund, amounting to P500 million, to compensate any person inoculated through the Covid-19 Vaccination Program, in case of death, permanent disability or hospitalization confinement.
“The PhilHealth, in consultation with the DOH, the NTF and the Permanent Committee, shall issue the necessary guidelines for the planning, administration, and monitoring of the utilization of the fund. The claim for indemnification for serious adverse event directly arising from the administration of Covid-19 vaccine must be filed within five years from the day of inoculation,” the bill states.
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.
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.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.