Duterte certifies as urgent bills for COVID-19 vaccine indemnification, LGU procurement

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 18 2021 02:30 PM | Updated as of Feb 18 2021 05:32 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte delivers a message to the public from the Arcadia Active Lifestyle Center in Matina, Davao City on Feb. 15, 2021. Joey Dalumpines, Presidential Photo/File

MANILA— President Rodrigo Duterte is seeking the speedy passage of a bill establishing an indemnification fund for people who might suffer adverse side effects of COVID-19 vaccines, and a proposed legislation that would authorize local governments to directly buy the shots from manufacturers, an official said on Thursday. 

Duterte certified as urgent the following proposed legislation, said Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force against COVID-19. 

  • Senate Bill No. 2057, which seeks to establish an indemnification fund and allow local government units to procure vaccines and make advance payments 
  • House Bill No. 8648 authorizing local governments to buy coronavirus vaccines directly from manufacturers without public bidding 

Bills certified as urgent are exempt from a rule requiring lawmakers to study the measure for at least 3 days before voting on it. 

WHY IS INDEMNIFICATION NECESSARY 

A "no fault" indemnification is necessary because COVID-19 vaccines will be used on an emergency basis, with their side effects still uncertain, said Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque. 

“Bakit po ‘no fault’ ang tawag d’yan? No fault po kasi sa ating batas, bago ka makakuha ng danyos, kailangan mayroong fault o negligence—pagkakamali or pagpapabaya. Pero hindi na po kinakailangan pruwebahan ang kapabayaan or ang pagkakamali," he said in a press briefing. 

(Why is it called 'no fault'? Under our laws, before you can get damages, there should be fault or negligence. But in the no fault indemnity, these need not be proven first.)

He said this would boost the confidence of both the public and vaccine manufacturers. 

"‘Pag sila’y na-danyos, ‘di na sila maghihirap sa kaso-kaso. Alam naman nating napakatagal ng mga kaso-kaso sa Pilipinas. Bayad agad kung meron talaga silang mga side effect," said Roque. 

(If they incur damages, they will not be burdened with filing a case. We know that cases move slowly in the Philippines. They will be compensated immediately if they suffer side effects.)

"Sa mga vaccine manufacturers naman, kampante rin sila na naiintidihan ng lahat na EUA pa lamang ang hawak nila at hindi sila dapat maidemanda kung mayroong mga side effects na biglang lumabas," he added.

(As for our vaccine manufacturers, they will also be confident that everyone understands they only have emergency use authorization and they will not be sued if side effects surface.)

'ON TRACK' 
 
The Philippines has lagged behind some of its Asian neighbors in securing COVID-19 shots, with which it hopes to inoculate up to 70 million people or two-thirds of the population this year, starting this February. None of the shots have arrived as of this posting.

But Galvez said the Philippines was "on track" based on its own schedule for vaccine procurement.

In the first quarter of the year, the Philippines expects 3 to 5 million doses from the vaccine-sharing COVAX facility, and about 1.6 million shots from China's Sinovac Biotech, he said. 

The country in the second quarter will get about 9 million more doses from COVAX in the second quarter, on top of deliveries of 10 to 15 million shots from Novavax and other vaccine makers, said Galvez. 

"Ang talaga pong massive rollout po natin ay doon po sa third quarter. Dito po, darating iyong 30 to 50 million doses na galing po sa Novavax, J&J, and kung magkaroon po tayo ng sa Pfizer, Sinovac and other vaccines na puwedeng pumasok 'pag nagkaroon na po sila ng EUA," he said.

(Our massive rollout will be in the third quarter. By then, 30 to 50 million doses will arrive from Novavax, J&J, and if we could have Pfizer, Sinovac and other vaccines that may be delivered once they get emergency use authorization.)

Video courtesy of PTV