Duterte authorizes advance LGU payments for COVID-19 vaccine

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 18 2021 02:25 PM | Updated as of Feb 18 2021 08:59 PM

Health workers participate in a vaccination simulation at Pedro P. Cruz Elementary School, in Mandaluyong City on January 27, 2021. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) — President Rodrigo Duterte has authorized local government units to make advance payments for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, an official said on Thursday.

"Inaprubahan na rin po iyong ating hinihintay na memorandum order for the LGU to procure and make advance payment," said vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. 

(The memorandum order that we are waiting for has been approved for the LGUs to procure and make advance payment for the vaccines.)

Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque confirmed the President signed the memorandum order "exceeding the 15% limit on advanced payments." 

"Dahil po sa MO na ito, makakabayad na po ng advance payment ang mga lokal na pamahalaan na bumili ng kanilang mga bakuna," he said in the same briefing. 

(Because of this MO, local governments can now make advance payments for vaccines.)

Video courtesy o f PTV 

A copy of the Duterte's memorandum order can be read here

Under the memorandum, Duterte authorizes the National Task Force against COVID-19, the Department of Health (DOH) and local governments to make advanced payments exceeding 15 percent of the total contract amount for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.

Under the Government Procurement Reform Act, Philippine authorities or agencies are not allowed to buy items that have yet to be produced without the President's approval. 

“The National Task Force against COVID-19 and the (DOH) are hereby authorized to make advance payments exceeding fifteen percent (15 percent) of the total contract amount for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines,” the memorandum order read. 

“LGUs that are allowed to procure COVID-19 vaccines under existing laws and issuances, including those relevant to Emergency Use Authorizations, may also make advance payments exceeding the above-stated 15% limit, provided they are authorized to do so by the Chief Implementer, subject to the criteria and limits to be established by the NTF and the Department of Health, consistent with applicable laws, rules and regulations,” the document added.

The memorandum also stated that advance payments must be subject to the country's procurement laws, auditing rules and regulations, and other pertinent issuances. 

The authority will reman in effect until the lifting of the State of Calamity due to COVID-19.

Duterte in September 2020 said developers "must be crazy" for asking a "reservation fee" while a vaccine has not yet been developed. He later approved advance payments for vaccine developers. 

Earlier this week, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a bill that would allow local government units (LGU) to import COVID-19 vaccines tax free. 

Duterte has also certified as urgent a House bill that seeks to allow local governments to buy coronavirus vaccines directly from manufacturers without public bidding. 

Currently, LGUs that seek their own vaccine supply have to sign a tripartite deal with the shots' manufacturer and the national government. 

The Philippines hopes to inoculate 70 million people or two-thirds of the population against COVID-19 this year, starting in February. The country has yet to receive its first authorized vaccine batch.

— With a report from Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News