Duterte OKs advance payments for Covid-19 vaccine

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation to advance supply agreements and make early payments to coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine manufacturers, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said Duterte accepted the proposal of vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. to enter advance market commitments with private foreign developers and provide advance payments to ensure the Philippines would secure vaccine doses once these were cleared for widespread use.

Medyo pumayag na tayo na magkaroon tayo ng advance payments, kasi pag hindi tayo pumayag baka mangulelat tayo doon sa mga bansa na makakakuha ng vaccine (We already agreed to advance payments for Covid-19 because if we don’t agree to it, we will be left out as other countries secure vaccines),” Roque said during a virtual press briefing.

Alam ko po nung una ay ayaw ng Presidente yan, pero nung nakita niya ang listahan ng mga bansang nag-a-advance payment. Eh hindi naman tayo magpapahuli basta meron naman tayong pondo (I know that the President previously rejected the idea, but he changed his mind upon seeing the list of countries making advance payment. We will also go for it because we also have enough funds for it),” he added.

Duterte hadsaid that the Philippines would not spend a single peso to pay a “reservation fee” to pharmaceutical companies that have yet to develop a vaccine for Covid-19, saying it was against the country’s procurement laws.

“In other countries, they want cash advance bago tayo deliver-an ng vaccine. Eh kung ganun, patay tayong lahat (before they give us vaccines. If that’s the case then we will all die). Every Filipino will die I can assure you,” Duterte said in his previous public address.

The President said these companies must be “crazy” if they thought the Philippines would just pay for something that was not certain.

“There is nothing with finality, and you want us to make a reservation by depositing money? You must be crazy,” Duterte said.

“The procurement law of the Philippines, this country, does not allow you to buy something which is non-existent or to-be-produced as yet. It’s a very exacting law and you must always reckon with, you know, prosecution and going to jail,” he added.

But Galvez earlier said the “advanced marketing program” was meant to resolve the Philippines’ “limitations.”

The Government Auditing Code of the Philippines said the government shall not be obliged to pay an advance payment for services and supplies not delivered yet.

Local firms have committed to buying dosages of the vaccine. They will give 50 to 80 percent of these to the government for distribution among the poor, and the rest to their own company employees.

Meanwhile, Roque said the President would likewise issue an executive order allowing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to authorize the emergency use of vaccines.

This means that coronavirus vaccines approved by other countries can be used locally after 21 days, down from the current required six-month verification, he said.

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