Velasco hopes for earlier Covid-19 vaccine rollout
MANILA, Philippines — Speaker Lord Allan Velasco expressed hopes Monday that the country’s vaccination program against Covid-19 will be rolled out earlier as the House of Representatives approved the measure seeking to expedite the procurement of the shots against the deadly disease.
Velasco made the remark after the lower chamber approved House Bill No. 8648 or the “Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021.”
“We hope the bill will serve its noble purpose of helping the national government hasten the purchase and administration of the vaccine against Covid-19, which already killed more than 12,000 people nationwide and sent the economy into deep contraction,” Velasco said in a statement.
“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,” the House leader added.
The measure authorizes the national government, local government units, and the private sector, in cooperation with the 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.”
The bill 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.
Salient provisions of the bill are as follows:
- Giving NTF the authority to negotiate and approve the terms and conditions in behalf of procuring entities, including but not limited to the price and payment terms;
- Allowing LGUs and private entities, in coordination with the DOH and NTF, to enter into a multiparty agreement with the DOH and relevant supplier for the procurement of vaccines;
- Tax exemptions for the purchase, importation, storage, transport, distribution and administration of Covid-19 vaccines by LGUs;
- Setting up of a P500-million indemnity fund for the adverse events following immunization
The Senate version of the measure still needs to be approved before the bicameral conference committee can settle the disagreeing provisions of the House and Senate versions of the bill.
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
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.