COA to audit purchase of COVID-19 vaccines amid price non-disclosure concerns
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Audit (COA) said it will look into the national government’s purchase of COVID-19 vaccines as concerns over the non-disclosure of its prices surface.
COA Chairperson Michael Aguinaldo said this Friday during the deliberations on the proposed 2022 budget of the commission before the House committee on appropriations.
“Maga-audit ng lahat ng expenditures relating to the vaccines. In fact, for the information of the committee, I think two months ago, we already issued guidelines for our auditors in the audit of the national vaccination program,” Aguinaldo said.
(We will adult all the expenditures relating to the vaccines.)
The audit will also cover the use of the vaccines that were donated to the country, said Aguinaldo.
In his interpellation, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said that the invocation by government officials of the “Non-Disclosure Agreement” (NDA) to conceal the prices of procured vaccines violates Philippine laws on transparency and accountability in the purchase of goods and services.
Lagman cited Section 6 of Republic Act No. 11525 or the “COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021” which mandates transparency and accountability in the vaccines’ procurement by disclosing the supplier’s name and the amount given for the purchase.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. has earlier said that certain manufacturers have stipulated provisions on the non-disclosure of prices of the vaccines procured in the contract.
Nonetheless, Aguinaldo believes that COA will be “exempted” from these NDAs as it is part of their mandate to audit government processes and transactions.
“Of course, pag in-audit na yan, I think that would be considered as an exemption for the non-disclosure kasi hindi naman kami considered public at this is part of our mandate,” Aguinaldo said.
(Of course, when we audit that, I think that would be considered as an exemption for the non-disclosure because we are not considered as a public entity and it is a part of our mandate.)
“I would tend to look at the duty of the commission as an exemption to an NDA. The NDA is really governed by whatever the stipulations states but I think it’s a given exemption that there are government processes that have to be followed,” he added.
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