The Department of Health (DOH) was castigated for proposing to exclude certain industries or businesses from the list of those to be allowed to procure or import Covid19 vaccines for their respective workers.
Sources said this is contained in a draft DOH administrative order awaiting the green light from Malacanang allegedly stating that the department “shall ensure that industries in conflict with the interest of public health shall not be part of this endeavor.”
The affected industries in the DOH’s hit list, according to reports, are those dealing with alcohol, tobacco, milk, sugar among others.
“That means the entire San Miguel Corporation group, Lucio Tan group, Nestle, Coca Cola, Philip Morris, Fortune Tobacco, Tanduay, Ginebra, soft drinks makers, etc.,” Sen. Imee Marcos said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto called the DOH proposal “absurd,” and probably the handiwork of the same officials behind the government’s failed pandemic response.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon described the move as “unconstitutional, criminal and discriminatory,” and warned that DOH officials may face a Senate investigation and appropriate criminal charges should they persist with it.
“Stop playing God. This isn’t the time for politics and selfish agenda. It is the moral responsibility of the state to make sure that vaccines reach millions of Filipinos in the shortest time,” Drilon said in a radio interview.
Significantly, Senate President pro tempore Ralph Recto said this would “sabotage” the ambitious public-private effort being pushed by presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Joey Conception to hasten the delivery of vaccines to 70 million Filipinos to achieve herd immunity.
“What is it with the DOH that they don’t seem to want private wealth to be used for public health?” he opined.
House deputy speaker Bernadette Herrera said the DOH must allow all private companies to buy vaccines considering this time of pandemic.
Herrera comments were supported by Marikina Rep. Stella Quimbo, House deputy minority leader, who said that non-participation of the private sector in vaccine-procurement efforts would only hamper of the national vaccination campaign.
Quimbo said that the P82.5 billion funding provided by Congress for the purchase of vaccines isn’t nearly enough to inoculate 70 million Filipinos for herd immunity. And the cooperation of the private sector is crucial in stopping the pandemic spread.
Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler