Imee: Thank You, Mr. President, For Easing Vaccine Procurement

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Senator Imee Marcos has lauded President Rodrigo Duterte for striking down an attempt by the Department of Health (DOH) to block certain industries from purchasing vaccines.

“Thank you, Tatay Digong, for being a true father of the nation. Truly, there is hope that more Filipinos can be vaccinated at the soonest possible time, now that private companies can freely purchase vaccines,” Marcos added.

The senator exposed last week the attempt by the DOH to block “not just companies but whole industries” from purchasing vaccines, including manufacturers of tobacco products and those deemed in conflict with public health, as liquor, sugared drinks, and even breast milk substitutes.

The attempt was contained in a draft administrative order about to be passed to the President for his signature.

Various Filipino-Chinese manufacturers had complained that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), led by Health Secretary Francisco Duque, had been preventing them from procuring vaccines as early as June last year, Marcos said.

Marcos added that the extent of the IATF’s apparent squeeze on private companies affected members of four Filipino-Chinese chambers of commerce.

“There’s a hint of corporate lobbying and maneuvering there, if not racism,” she said.

President Duterte’s new directive to Carlito Galvez Jr., chief of the National Task Force Against Covid-19, to “sign any and all documents” allowing the private sector to buy vaccines would benefit the whole country, according to Marcos.

“This will accelerate the pace of the government’s mass inoculation program. Whole industries will now be able to provide vaccines not only for their workers but also for other Filipinos through donations stipulated in tripartite agreements among the government, vaccine makers and private companies,” Marcos explained.

However, Marcos added a caveat: “After the collective sigh of relief, the pandemic and its opportunists remain. The President must take care. Friends as bogus as fake vaccines may spoil his wise decision and good intentions. Watch out for the entry of fake vaccines!” Marcos warned.