MANILA - Senators on Monday urged the officials in charge of the Philippines' COVID-19 inoculation program to allow private firms to have a say which vaccine brand they want to procure.
Local governments and private companies should "at least authorize to be able to negotiate," Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said during the Senate Committee of the Whole investigation on COVID-19 vaccines.
"Right now, even the private sector would want to deal with the manufacturer and, for some reason or another, the manufacturer would want to deal with them, they cannot do so," he said.
"Their hands are tied by this regulatory roadblock," he said.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said private companies are unauthorized to procure vaccines that have yet to be certified.
So far, only emergency use authorizations have been issued to different COVID-19 vaccines brand since there is an urgent need for the vials, the agency said.
Private companies should also be allowed to hold their own vaccination programs, Sen. Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said.
"Provide them the means, enable them and monitor them. Have them provide reports about the immunization," he said.
"Strengthen your regulation but don't prohibit the private sector," he said.
COVID-19 vaccine czar Carlito Galvez said the government will spend P82.5 billion to buy 148 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Several private firms have already partnered with the national government to procure some vaccines for their employees.