MANILA - Vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. showed to senators all “necessary documents and proposed agreements” in relation to COVID-19 vaccines the Philippine government is eyeing to purchase, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said Wednesday.
Sotto disclosed this after emerging from a meeting that was also attended by Senators Panfilo Lacson and Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, and Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong.
Except for Sotto, all four – Lacson, Dela Rosa, Magalong and Galvez – are products of the Philippine Military Academy.
"We were able to see all the necessary documents and proposed agreements. Indeed there are nondisclosure agreements mandated by the pharma companies internationally," Sotto told reporters in an online message.
“I will inform our colleagues on the important facts ASAP,” he added.
There was no photo taken during the meeting, Sotto said.
Galvez also reportedly assured that no overpricing will happen in whatever vaccine brand that the Philippine government will procure.
“Galvez assures us through the agreements that there will be no room for overpricing by any person, entity or group as all payments will go directly to the pharma companies from the lending institution who will also set in place proper safeguards,” Sotto said.
Despite what happened during that meeting, the Senate Committee of the Whole’s third hearing on Friday will still push through.
“The hearing will push through and hopefully we will be able to elicit enough information to be able to convince our countrymen that the vaccines no matter what brand will be necessary, for us to defeat the virus,” Sotto said.
The Senate Committee of the Whole is probing the Duterte administration’s national vaccination program to combat COVID-19.
Days before the confidential meeting, a number of senators including Lacson, have repeatedly criticized Galvez, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque and Health Sec. Francisco Duque III, for coming out with conflicting statements and information about the government’s vaccine procurement program.
Many senators are also questioning the government’s seeming preference to China’s Sinovac vaccine, even though it has shown unsatisfactory efficacy with its expensive price.