No private transactions for COVID vaccines – Duterte

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    PRESIDENT Duterte has directed the Department of Health to adopt a government-to-government transaction in the procurement of vaccines for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), most likely with China.

    Under the government-to-government mode of transaction, which Duterte said would be less prone to corruption, Chinese vaccine developers will no longer need local partners to distribute vaccines in the country.

    The President, in a pre-recorded message that aired on Tuesday, said the Philippines would pay for the vaccines and would likely procure from China.

    Among the leading Chinese companies developing vaccines are Sinovac and Sinopharm.

    “Let me tell everybody that hindi kami maghingi. We will pay. So maganda sana government-to-government ang transaction. Walang corruption, wala lahat kasi government-to-government (Let me tell everybody that we will not ask countries for free vaccines. We will pay. So a government-to-government transaction may be better. There is no corruption, none at all, because it is government-to-government),” he said.

    “It should be a government-to-government transaction because it will be good. And tell your men if they are into these negotiations, place first government-to-government transaction… I don’t like the private persons, buying from private Chinese businessmen,” the President said as he instructed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

    The Department of Health oversees procurement and distribution of vaccines.

    Ambassador to China Chito Sta. Maria last week said the Chinese government committed to the President that the Philippines would be prioritized in the distribution of vaccines but advised the country to put up storage facilities for the vaccines.

    Food and Drug Administration director general Rolando Enrique Domingo said the cold chain storage facility for the COVID-19 vaccines is necessary as the vaccines are very sensitive and need very specific temperature settings.

    He said a break in the cold chain might result in the loss of the vaccine’s efficacy.

    The President, through Administrative Order 34 on October 23, ordered all agencies under the executive branch to activate and maintain social media accounts and official websites where information on the procurement of goods and services would be made available to the public for scrutiny.

    Duterte said all agencies under the executive should strictly comply with transparency, accountability, and good governance policies and measures in the process of procurement.

    “To this end, all agencies and instrumentalities of the government shall strictly comply with the relevant provisions on transparency and accountability in the procurement process under RA No. 9184 (Government Procurement Reform Act) and its Revised Implementing Rules and Regulations, the GAA (General Appropriations Act), the resolutions of the Government Procurement Policy Board and other relevant laws, rules and regulations,” AO 34 read.

    The order also directed all government institutions to post on their official websites and social media platforms the following: project title, start of construction and target date of completion, reasons in case of delay, source of funds, and detailed actual cost of actual projects in compliance with efforts to ensure transparency in the procurement of infrastructure projects.

    The order also directed the Philippine Government Electronic Procurement System (PhilGEPS) to be primary source and repository of information on government procurement, as well as to ensure that observers, authorized by the Bids and Awards Committee, will be present during the procurement proceedings that would be done online.

    The Government Procurement Policy Board (GPPB) is required to come up with a consolidated blacklisting report every quarter and disseminate it to procuring entities and the Commission on Audit. The blacklisting report should include the number of times a person or an entity has been blacklisted and the type of violation committed.

    The blacklisting report shall be posted on the websites of GPPB and PhilGEPS and the official website of the social media platform of the procuring entity.

    Non-compliance with any of the directives stated under AO 34 shall be a ground for administrative action against the government official or employee.