MANILA – Malacañang assured the public on Wednesday that President Rodrigo Duterte will immediately sign into law a measure expediting the purchase and administration of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccines and creating a PHP500-million indemnification fund.
This, after the House of Representatives agreed to adopt the Senate version of the proposed Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act.
“Inaasahan po natin na ito ay maisusumite sa Office of the President para maisabatas na po sa lalong mabilis na panahon (We expect that it will be transmitted to the Office of the President so it will be passed into law as soon as possible),” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a virtual press conference.
Roque said Majority Leader Martin Romualdez had told him that there is no need to come up with a bicameral conference report on the proposed measure since the House lawmakers adopted the senators’ version of the bill.
“So, tapos na po iyan. ‘Pag iyan po ay nakarating sa Malacañang, sigurado naman po pipirmahan iyan ng ating Presidente (So, the final version of the bill is already there. When it reaches Malacañang, the President will surely sign that),” he said.
The House of Representatives on Tuesday night adopted Senate Bill 2057 or the proposed Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021.
Under the proposed measure, the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force Against Covid-19 are authorized to undertake negotiated procurement of Covid-19 vaccines and the needed supplies and services for their storage, transport, and distribution.
The bill also allows local government units (LGUs) to procure Covid-19 vaccines and needed supplies and services.
Private entities can also purchase vaccines, subject to similar restrictions and conditions set for LGUs and only for their sole and exclusive use, according to the bill.
The measure also provides exemptions for the procurement, importation, donation, storage, transport, deployment, and administration of Covid-19 vaccines.
The vaccines will be exempted from customs duties, value-added tax, excise tax, and other fees.
The bill also seeks the establishment of a PHP500-million indemnity fund that will be used to compensate any person who experience adverse events after getting inoculated with the Covid-19 vaccine.
The fund will be sourced from the Contingent Fund and will be administered by Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).
Under the bill, individuals who have completed Covid-19 immunization may be granted certain benefits or exemptions like international travel, non-essential domestic travel, local checkpoint and quarantine exemptions, and access to business establishments. (PNA)