Malacanang has officially asked Congress to allow local government units (LGUs) to deal directly with Covid19 vaccine manufacturers, in a bid to facilitate the vaccine rollout for 110 million Filipinos and hasten the recovery of the virus-hobbled economy.
This was reportedly contained in a bill that was “certified as urgent” by President Duterte last week.
Under current conditions set by Republic Act 9184 or the Government Reform Procurement Act, LGUs can only buy Covid vaccines by way of a tripartite agreement with the national government and the suppliers, which is quite a circuitous process considering the existing crisis situation.
To circumvent this, Palace officials said there is a pressing need to amend RA 9184, which is the reason behind the bill forwarded by Mr. Duterte.
“This is an appeal to Congress that it is an urgent administration measure which should be passed right away,” according to Sec. Harry Roque, presidential spokesman.
As explained, a bill certified as urgent by the President may be passed by Congress on second and third reading on the very same day it is submitted.
Earlier, the House of Representatives fast tracked passage of House Bill 8648 or the proposed Emergency Vaccine Procurement Act of 2021 (authored by Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, Majority Leader Martin Romualdez and Minority Leader Stephen Paduano after consulting with Health Sec. Francisco Duque and vaccine czar Sec. Charlie Galvez) permitting LGUs to skirt the national government and buy straight from pharmaceutical companies their vaccine requirements and do away with public bidding protocols.
The bill also allows LGUs facility in the purchase of needed vaccines with fuss-free issuance of emergency use authorization status from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Once passed, LGUs may make advance payments to foreign vaccine companies not exceeding 50 percent of the contract price, which would normally not have been allowed under RA 9184.