Legarda Hails Approval of Emergency Vaccine Procurement Bill on Third Reading

February 23, 2021

Former three-term Senator, now Deputy Speaker, Loren Legarda lauded the House of Representatives’ approval on third reading of the proposed Emergency Vaccine Procurement Act of 2021, which expedites the purchase and administration of COVID-19 vaccines by providing exemptions to comply with the requirements set under Republic Act No. 9184 or the Government Procurement Act.

Legarda, co-author of House Bill No. 8648, expressed optimism that the approval of the proposed measure will help fast track the acquisition of vaccines and ensure early access to viable vaccine supply.

“While other countries have already started their vaccination roll-out, the COVID-19 vaccines are still not available here in the country. The procurement law that we have is one of the reasons for the delay in acquisition because there are certain requirements that needed to be complied with before vaccine purchase and administration can go through. This measure allows expediting the procurement process of vaccines to service the Filipino people by giving exemption to the national government agencies from complying with requirements set under RA 9184,” the former Senator explained.

Moreover, Legarda urged the national government and the LGUs to give equal attention to other challenges faced by the country in terms of procurement and roll out of vaccines. Legarda stressed that while the government seeks to procure the best vaccine, with high efficacy rate, there is also a need to ensure that we have enough healthcare staff and vaccination centers for the efficient facilitation of the immunization program. Legarda also called for an equitable policy in terms of prioritization of recipients and an intensified information dissemination campaign to educate the people on the pros and cons of getting vaccinated.

“Aside from the procurement process, we also have to address other challenges such as ensuring that we have enough vaccination workforce and centers to administer the immunization plan. We have to provide an equitable policy in prioritization of recipients and most importantly, we have to gain public’s confidence and lessen their vaccine hesitancy through comprehensive information dissemination,” Legarda said.

“Let us not prolong the agony of our people and help them have safer everyday life. We are in the midst of a pandemic and we cannot disregard the right of our people to have access to the COVID-19 vaccines that will not only save lives, but, will also save the country’s struggling economy,”Legarda concluded.

House Bill 8648, which was approved on third reading in the House of Representatives, gives the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force on Against COVID-19 the management prerogative to procure COVID-19 vaccines and associated supplies and services for the storage, transport and deployment of vaccines through negotiated procurement. The authority given also includes entering into a supply agreement, advance market commitment, research investment or purchase order as well as agreeing to advance payment of not more than 50% of the total contract price with tax exemptions for the procurement, importation, storage, transport, distribution, and administration of COVID-19 vaccines.

Whereas, the LGUs will also be given the capacity to purchase or receive donations through a multiparty agreement with DOH, the NTF, and the vaccine manufacturer, as long as vaccines are registered with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with a valid certificate of product registration or emergency use authorization can be purchased.

Furthermore, the requirement for Phase IV trials of COVID-19 medications and vaccines, which is a requirement under the Universal Health Care Law, has also been removed, as long as the vaccines are recommended or approved by the World Health Organization or other internationally recognized health agencies.

The bill also provides for the creation of a Php 500 million-Indemnification Fund for Adverse Events following immunization.***