Duterte approves advance payments, emergency use of COVID-19 vaccines

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Malacañang photo by Norman Alonzo

PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed the government to make advance payments for coronavirus vaccines, Malacañang announced on Thursday, November 19.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte accepted the proposal of vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. to enter into advance market commitments with private vaccine developers and release advance payments to secure vaccines for Filipinos.

“Kasi kapag hindi po tayo pumayag, baka mangulelat doon sa mga bansa na makakuha ng vaccines (If we didn’t agree to this, we might be left behind compared to other countries who will be getting the vaccines),” Roque said.

Recently, pharmaceutical firms Pfizer and Moderna reported their respective vaccines to have 95% and 94.5% efficacy following trials.

Duterte previously rejected paying in advance for the vaccines, but changed his mind when he saw the list of countries that paid in advance.

“Alam ko po noong una ayaw ni Presidente ‘yan, pero noong nakuha po niya yung listahan ng mga bansang nag-a-advance payment, hindi naman tayo magpapahuli (I know the president was against it at first, but when he saw the list of countries paying in advance, we cannot allow that we will be left behind),” Roque said.

“Basta meron naman tayong pondo. Kung kinakailangan ibenta mga ari-arian ng gobyerno, gagawin niya ‘yan (As long as we have the funds. If we have to sell government assets, he will do it),” he added.

The Government Procurement Reform Act prohibits Philippine authorities or agencies to buy items that have yet to be produced without the president’s approval.

Its implementing rules and regulations stated that advance payments may only be made after the President’s approval and will not exceed 15% of the contract amount, unless otherwise directed by the President.

Local firms have committed to buying doses of the vaccine and donating 50 to 80 percent of these to the government for distribution among the poor.

Roque also said Duterte has approved the suggestion to allow the Food and Drug Administration to acknowledge Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) acquired by foreign vaccine developers from their own governments.

Once an executive order is issued, vaccines can be used locally after 21 days, cutting down the current six-month requirement for verification.

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