MANILA – Senator Francis Escudero on Monday called for a full blown audit of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) vaccine expenditures saying the public has the right to know all pandemic-era vaccine purchases.
Escudero noted that the total amount spent could not be determined as he also doubts if the so-called “non-disclosure agreement” (NDA) that the government had signed with vaccine manufacturers prior to the sale could be used as an excuse to hide procurement details.
“The NDA goes against Section 6 (the transparency clause) of Republic Act 11525 or the Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, which requires the publication of the approved budget of contract and the amount of contract awarded on vaccine purchases,” he said.
"Millions of vaccine shots have unfortunately expired. But what does not go stale is the responsibility to disclose the details of the billions spent for them," Escudero said. "The vaccines do not carry an immunity from accountability."
He describe the NDA as a “new breed of an excuse” to evade accountability "and it should be stopped."
As such, the Bicolano senator urged the Commission on Audit (COA) to subpoena documents and the Department of Health (DOH) and other agencies served to comply.
It was reported that out of the 245 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines that the government had bought or received for free, some 44 million had expired by end of 2022.
“Hanggang ngayon, walang price list na lumabas kung magkano ang Sinovac, ang Moderna, ang Pfizer at iba pa (Until now, there are no price list of Sinovac, Moderna, Pfizer and other vaccines) And yet, we fine small grocery stores for not complying with the price tag law. ‘Yung tindahan na hindi nailagay ang presyo ng sardinas, may multa. Itong sa bukana, deadma (Stores who don’t have price tags of sardines, were fined, but in the case of vaccines, no actions taken)," Escudero said. (With a report from Leonel Abasola/PNA)