President Rodrigo Duterte has certified as urgent two bills seeking to establish a vaccine indemnity fund as well as fast track the procurement of vaccines amid the COVID-19 pandemic, vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said Thursday.
These bills, according to Galvez during a press briefing, are Senate Bill No. 2057 and House Bill No. 8648 as urgent.
“Pinirmahan na po ng ating mahal na Pangulo ang pagsertipika ng panukalang batas as urgent. Nag-usap po kami kanina, kasama po si Senator Bong Go, at magandang balita po na talagang napirmahan niya na po ‘yung mga Senate bill na makakatulong po sa atin,” he said.
Senate Bill 2057 seeks to expedite the purchase and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and establish a P500-million indemnification fund, while House Bill 8648 seeks to authorize local government units (LGUs) to give advance payments for COVID-19 vaccines.
Certifying a bill as urgent allows Congress to approve the measure on second and third reading on the same day.
Galvez earlier said that the absence of such indemnification agreement has delayed the arrival of the first batch of 117,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines under the COVAX facility.
COVAX facility is a global effort aimed at providing access to COVID-19 responses, including vaccines, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), Gavi Vaccine Alliance, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
WHO representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe on Thursday said vaccine makers expect governments to fund the indemnification agreement since the COVID-19 vaccines are still under emergency use authorization, meaning they are not for commercial use. --KBK, GMA News