February 12, 2021
Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 11) — The House Committee on Appropriations approved on Thursday a consolidated bill which seeks to fast-track vaccine purchase by allowing local government units to directly buy doses from pharmaceutical firms.
The panel moved to pass House Bill 8648, in consolidation with House Bill 8649, but subject to amendments that have yet to be submitted Monday next week.
HB 8648 was filed by House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez, and Minority Leader Joseph Stephen Paduano, while HB 8649 was introduced by Rep. Junie Cua.
Both versions seek to expedite vaccination efforts by exempting local government units from compliance with procurement rules. Under the measures, LGUs may buy their own doses without public bidding, as long as the vaccines are registered or allowed emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration.
Both would likewise authorize local governments to make advance payments not exceeding 50% of the contract amount for the vaccines, unless otherwise directed by the President.
To further ensure speedy procurement, Velasco’s version of the bill proposes to waive existing requirements for Phase 4 vaccine trials, provided that these are recommended and approved by the World Health Organization and other internationally recognized health agencies.
It also proposes to exempt LGUs from import duties, taxes and other fees. Another important feature is the creation of an indemnification fund for adverse events following immunization.
The House Speaker stressed the importance of the measure, saying each day of delay in the vaccine arrival leaves more Filipinos vulnerable to COVID-19.
The first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines, covering 117,000 doses from Pfizer-BioNtech, is expected to arrive in the country within the month. These will benefit medical frontliners and hospital staff at the Philippine General Hospital, Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium or Tala Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, and the East Avenue Medical Center.
By CNN Philippines Staff
Source: CNN Philippines