THE country’s procurement law has allowed the government to enter into negotiated agreements specifically for the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra issued the statement amid snowballing calls for the government to disclose an agreement with China’s Sinovac Biotech for the procurement of coronavirus vaccines.
He, however, admitted that he hasn’t seen a copy of the tripartite agreement among the government, local government units, and vaccine manufacturer.
“Our procurement law expressly authorizes negotiated procurement by government in emergency cases such as when there is imminent danger to life during a state of calamity.”
“I have not seen the tripartite agreement among the national government, the LGU sector, and the vaccine manufacturer, so I am not in a position to comment on whether the non-disclosure provision is anchored on a sound policy basis. What I know, however, is that the tripartite agreement is a broad preparatory agreement, to be followed by actual supply contracts containing specific terms, such as on pricing, “he said in a message.
The government has been urged to be transparent in its transactions involving the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines following President Duterte’s refusal to disclose the details of agreement with pharmaceutical companies, specifically the contract price.
“Transparency is helpful in establishing facts, dispelling doubts and suspicions, countering propaganda, minimizing political posturing, curbing corruption, promoting accountability, nurturing cooperation, and in enhancing trust in our country’s governance,” the IBP said in a statement.
The group cited as basis for its call Article II, Section 28 and Article III, Section 7 of the 1987 Constitution, which provided policy of full public disclosure on all transactions involving public interest, and acknowledge the people’s right to information.
It also invoked the Supreme Court decision in Chavez vs. NHA, which ruled that “these provisions of the Constitution seek to promote transparency in policy-making and in the operations of the government, as well as provide the people sufficient information to exercise effectively other constitutional rights”.
“There is compelling legal basis for transparency, even under the COVID 19 emergency. It is good to let the people know more about the COVID 19 vaccines, the decisions to be made for them, and the public funds therefor. A well-informed citizenry will “heal as one”, better and faster,” the IBP said.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said his administration cannot divulge the details of the agreement it has with China’s Sinovac Biotech for the procurement of its COVID-19 vaccines.