Speaker Velasco wants to expedite Covid-19 vaccines procurement

House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco has filed House Bill 8648, the proposed Emergency Vaccine Procurement Act of 2021 which seeks to expedite the prpcurement and  administration of the Covid-19 vaccines by authorizing local government units (LGUs) to directly purchase the life-saving shots in the most economical and expeditious manner.

Velasco’s measure provides exemptions to compliance by LGUs with the procurement requirements under Republic Act 9184 or the Government Procurement Reform Act in the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines and other much-needed supplies during the pandemic.

“The next crucible in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic is the speedy procurement and effective administration of vaccines against the deadly disease. Time is of the essence. Each day of delay is very costly for the government, and leaves many of our vulnerable countrymen exposed to the dangers of this disease,” he said.

The Speaker stressed that the vaccination process is crucial in the fight against Covid-19 as it would help the country attain herd immunity and return to normal.

HB 8648 proposes to waive the requirement of Phase IV trials for Covid-19 medication and vaccine stipulated in the Universal Health Care Law to expedite the vaccine procurement.

The vaccines to procure, however, must be recommended and approved by the World Health Organization and other internationally recognized health agencies. The bill seeks to allow concerned LGUs to engage in advance payment mechanism for purposes of procuring Covid-119 vaccines from foreign manufacturers.

The advance payment should not exceed 50 percent of the contracted amount for the procurement. 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 perfection of the contract.

The vaccine procurement, importation, storage, transport, distribution, and administration by the LGUs shall also 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.