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DOH open to Senate probe on COVID-19 vaccine deals

Department of Health (DOH) officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said Tuesday they will participate in the investigation by the Senate regarding the procurement of the COVID-19 vaccines, and will provide the necessary documents if required by law.

This came after the Senate blue ribbon committee announced Monday that it will probe the alleged non-disclosure by the DOH of the details of the COVID-19 vaccine deals due to agreements with the firms involved.

Committee chairman Senator Francis Tolentino said the panel would investigate motu propio or on its own, and the initial hearing has been set for December 14.

For the DOH’s part, Vergeire said they are open to any kind of probe on the matter.

“Wala po tayong hindi pagbibigyan kung ito ay base sa batas. Kung sakali pong hihingin ng Senado, tapos ito naman ay according sa mga nakasulat dun sa mga agreements namin, maaari naman pong magbigay,” she said in a press conference.

(We will grant everyone what they need if it is based on the law. If the Senate asks for the documents, we can give it to them if it is allowed based on what is written in our agreements with the manufacturers.)

“Bukas po ang Kagawaran ng Kalusugan para sa kahit na anong imbestigasyon patungkol sa pagbili natin ng bakuna. And if the agreements that we have entered into will allow us para maibigay ang iba't ibang dokumento na ito, naturally makikipagtulungan kami at ibibigay sa kanila ang mga dokumento,” she added.

(The Department of Health is open to any investigation regarding our purchase of the vaccines. And if the agreements that we have entered into will allow us to provide these various documents, naturally we will cooperate and provide them with the documents.)

Vergeire earlier said the DOH is allowed to provide the Commission on Audit with the documents related to the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines.

This was in light of the special audit requested by the World Bank (WB) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) on the loans they granted the Philippine government for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines—to which COA committed to ensuring a complete audit of.

DOH earlier said it sent the letter to COA requesting the special audit, and chose COA to be its auditing firm in the agreements.—AOL, GMA Integrated News