President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday night said the government must get the “best bargain” for the country’s supply of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) vaccines once available.
In a taped speech, Duterte said he will rely on vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. to manage the acquisition of a vaccine by December or January 2021.
“Secretary Galvez is here. Binigay ko sa kanya lahat kasi sabi ko ayaw ko nga ‘yang committee-committee (I have assigned him everything because I don’t like committees). Only one person whom I can trust, who is honest, and whose integrity is beyond question,” he said.
He said Galvez will be in charge of selecting the Covid-19 vaccine.
“Siya na lahat. Ikaw na ang mamili tapos tignan mo (He’ll do everything. You select and check it). Get the best bargain. So might as well that we are here. I’ll ask Secretary Galvez to tell us,” he said.
Instead of having to go through the process of bidding during a national emergency, Duterte said he preferred to issue an executive order.
“May mga pamaraan kasi na bago ka makabili, iyan ‘yang bidding, ‘yung ganoon (There are ways to purchase it, through bidding), but there is also a way of not doing it. If it takes time, then I can go directly and just issue the order to buy and to vaccinate the population,” he said.
He, meanwhile, reminded Galvez to prioritize the poorest of the poor in the immunization campaign.
Soldiers and their families should also be prioritized, he added.
Galvez, meanwhile, recommended entering into a multilateral arrangement with the World Bank while the Asian Development Bank will serve as “finance manager.”
“Ang amin pong rekomendasyon po (Our recommendation), Mr. President, [next slide please] ay (is) we enter on the Advance Market Commitment through the multilateral arrangement with World Bank and ADB as our finance manager. At the same time, we have also to have various modes of financing including Private-Public Tripartite Agreement without the cost with the government,” he said.
He also recommended the emergency use of the vaccine to be issued by the Food and Drug Administration of the Philippines.
Earlier, the Department of Health (DOH) said policies on the testing, evaluation and procurement of a vaccine will not change despite Galvez’s appointment as vaccine czar.
“No processes will be changed, there may be additional ones, because we now have this vaccine czar, our leader, he may add more expeditious processes for our work to be easier,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during an online media forum.
Vergeire added that the specific tasks Galvez would be handling include the purchasing, the negotiations, the manufacturing, the production, and distribution of the vaccines.
“Of course, he will not work alone,” she said, adding that Galvez will still work with DOH and the Departments of Science and Technology, Trade and Industry, Finance, Bureau of Investments and other agencies. (PNA)