PRRD to ink EO expediting LGUs’ vaccine procurement ‘if need be’

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (File photo)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, “if need be,” will sign an executive order (EO) allowing local government units (LGUs) to purchase vaccines against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) sans going through the process of public bidding, Malacañang said on Thursday.

“Kung kinakailangang po, walang problema ‘yan dahil ang posisyon ni Presidente, kung kinakailangang i-issue iyan (If it’s really necessary, there will be a problem with that because the President’s stance is he will issue [an executive order] if need be),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual presser.

Roque issued the statement when quizzed if Duterte would heed the LGUs’ call for the issuance of an EO that would authorize them to skip public bidding when buying Covid-19 vaccines.

He also welcomed the lawmakers’ move to file a measure that seeks to fast-track the local governments’ procurement of Covid-19 vaccines by doing away with public bidding.

The measure, he said, would help prevent the possible delay in the administration of Covid-19 vaccines in the country.

“Merong mga hakbang na ginagawa sa Kongreso para magpasa po ng batas na magkaroon ng exemption doon sa government procurement para nang sa gayon ay makabili nga po ng walang sagabal ang mga lokal na pamahalaan ng kanilang mga bakuna (Congress is taking steps to pass a bill exempting local governments from certain procurement requirements to ensure that the immunization drive would not be hampered),” Roque said.

At present, LGUs may purchase Covid-19 vaccines through tripartite agreements with the national government and vaccine manufacturers.

On Feb. 8, House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco filed House Bill 8648 which provides exemptions to compliance by LGUs with the procurement requirements under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act.

The bill aims to waive the requirement of Phase IV trials for Covid-19 medication and vaccine stipulated in the Universal Health Care Law to expedite the procurement, provided that these are recommended and approved by the World Health Organization and other internationally recognized health agencies.

It also allows concerned LGUs to make advance payment not exceeding 50 percent of the contract amount for the procurement of Covid-19 drugs and vaccines unless directed by the President.

Following the advance payment for the supply of vaccines, the foreign manufacturer, in consideration of its agreement with the concerned LGU, shall undertake to deliver the supply of vaccines within six months from the date of perfection of the contract.

The procurement, importation, storage, transport, distribution, and administration of Covid-19 vaccines by LGUs shall be exempt from customs duties, value-added tax, excise tax, and other fees, provided that the vaccines acquired shall only be used for their residents and constituents and not for commercial distribution, according to the bill.

A similar measure was filed at the Senate by Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri.

The Philippines targets to inoculate around 50 million to 70 million Filipinos this year. (PNA)

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