THE Integrated Bar of the Philippines has called on the government to be transparent in its transactions involving the procurement 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 a policy of full public disclosure on all transactions involving public interest, and acknowledged 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.
“Every negotiation, ibang agreement na naman ‘yan. Does not involve money, but one thing is certain, you cannot divulge the contract price agreed upon,” Duterte said during his weekly public address.
He also criticized senators who questioned the government’s move to order Sinovac’s vaccine despite its allegedly higher price and questionable efficacy.
“Nagka-canvass lang ‘yan. Ang akala yata nitong mga, for a lack of a better word, ayoko na lang magsalita. Akala yata nila, ‘yung kontrata sa Sinovac, kontrata sa Pfizer, kunyari. Sa Pfizer, gusto ninyong Pfizer, kayong mga senador. In Norway, 25 persons died after receiving Pfizer vaccination. Gusto ninyo, mag-order kami para sa inyo,” Duterte said.Publication Source : People's Journal