Senate panel urges for broader agency involvement in vaccine acquisition
MANILA, Philippines — The Senate blue ribbon committee recommends involving more government agencies in the country’s future contract negotiations for vaccines and critical life-saving supplies.
Led by its chairman, Senator Francis Tolentino, the panel investigated the Department of Health’s (DOH) refusal to release the details of the country’s vaccine procurement contracts due to existing non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) co-signed by the Philippine government with various manufacturers of COVID-19 vaccines.
In a 97-page report released last week, the panel noted a revelation during its hearings that the DOH did not participate in the country’s negotiations with COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers.
“It was the National Task Force and the Department of Finance (DoF) who represented the government of the Philippines. The DOF was designated as the lead negotiator for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines,” the report reads.
However, the committee recommended that the government include end users, in this instance, the DOH, during “contract negotiations.”
The panel also recommends that in future negotiations, the Office of the Solicitor General should be a part of the “proper negotiating teams.”
The proposal is “to ensure that any and all terms and conditions with foreign governments, corporations, entities or individuals are in compliance with the Constitution and the law,” the committee report reads.
The panel likewise suggests that any NDAs signed by government representatives should always allow Congress to examine the terms and conditions of a certain supply agreement.
The DOH is also instructed to do the following:
- Improve its data management system
- Revitalize public information through regular public briefings to encourage the people to have their respective booster shots
Eleven senators have signed the report, but three of the signatories indicated, along with their signatures, that they have reservations or that they intend to interpellate.