Firms can now buy own vaccines – Palace
MANILA, Philippines — All private companies, including manufacturers of tobacco, may procure vaccines against COVID-19 through a tripartite agreement with the national government, Malacañang announced on Monday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the provision in the draft rules that would have restricted some companies from procuring the vaccines had been removed.
“All private firms, including cigarette companies, may buy vaccines, according to the amended implementing rules and regulations of Republic Act No. 11525, or the COVID-19 vaccination law,” Roque told a press briefing.
But he also said private companies would have to enter into a tripartite agreements with vaccine manufacturers and the national government because vaccines were not yet commercially available.
“All vaccines are covered by an emergency use authorization, which is why the government has to be involved in the procurement of the vaccines through a tripartite agreement,” he said.
Under the tripartite agreement, private companies have to donate half of the vaccines they procure to the national government.
Roque said he would clarify with officials if the donation requirement could be removed, because the form for the tripartite agreement that required the donation predated the passage of the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act, which does not mention the need for a donation.
Lawmakers had criticized the Department of Health (DOH) over a provision in a draft administrative order that would bar companies considered to be “in conflict with public health,” such as those manufacturing tobacco and alcohol products and infant formula, from procuring vaccines.
Public health at stake
Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin said immunization was “to protect ourselves, our family, community, the country and the global community as a whole.”
“It shouldn’t even be considered. Public health is at stake here. Draft or not, we should be inclusive to achieve herd immunity,” Garin said on Monday.
She said excluding the infant formula, tobacco, liquor and other industries from vaccine procurement “is a mortal sin to add injury to a nation struggling to contain the spread of the virus.”
“Who is behind this? Who is manipulating the department? Who is controlling DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III? Now more than ever, the virus is teaching us to unite as a people. There’s low vaccine supply and yet we deprive Filipinos?” Garin asked.
Last week, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, Marikina Rep. Stella Luz Quimbo and Kabayan Rep. Ron Salo similarly criticized the draft DOH order.
The DOH subsequently said it was still finalizing the draft and reconciling proposed provisions with other laws.
Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the local World Health Organization representative, explained the proposed exclusion of tobacco and infant formula companies from the vaccine procurement.
“The concern with those sectors procuring and distributing vaccines was that that could be used as advocacy for those products and could be interpreted from that light,” he said.
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