President Rodrigo Duterte has signed a memorandum allowing local government units to make advance payments for the purchase of vaccines against Covid-19.
In a virtual presser, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go had told him that the President already signed the memorandum order.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, at the same virtual press briefing, said Duterte signed the MO yesterday.
The League of Cities of the Philippines, headed by Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia as national president, thanked Duterte for granting LGUs the authority to make advance payments.
“We are very thankful to President Rodrigo Duterte for the timely issuance of Memorandum Order 51 that will allow cities to make advance payments for the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines,” Leonardia said, adding that this has a direct impact, especially to cities that had earlier signed the multilateral agreement with the Department of Health, National Task Force Against Covid-19, and AstraZeneca.
“This is definitely a giant leap toward accelerating the implementation of our local vaccination programs. Bacolod City is among the top 5 direct beneficiaries along with Davao, Quezon, Makati, and Manila for having the biggest volume of allocated vaccine supply,” the mayor said last night.
Leonardia said the City Government of Bacolod is preparing the advance payment of 20 percent, as per contract, of the total cost of 650,000 doses of vaccine it will procure from AstraZeneca.
“We will make sure that the City will settle the payment before the deadline to ensure that we get the delivery of the vaccines starting the third quarter of this year,” he added.
The LCP earlier appealed to Duterte to issue an executive order to authorize city mayors to make advance payments for the vaccines contracted by LGUs.
The LCP adopted Resolution No. 2021-01 containing this appeal, during its Special General Assembly early this month.
“We need the intervention of Duterte to pursue our availment of the vaccines. With his authority to allow advance payment, our local vaccination program can be set in accelerated motion,” Leonardia said earlier.
Under Republic Act 9184, or the Government Procurement Reform Act, government agencies are allowed to make advance payments of up to 15 percent of the contract, provided that the transactions are secured by an irrevocable letter of credit, or bank guarantee.
The memorandum, Roque said, would enable LGUs to secure Covid-19 vaccines with advance payments of up to 50 percent.
He said the memorandum would be made public, once the Palace receives a copy of it.
The Senate and the House of Representatives have filed similar measures authorizing LGUs to make advance payment not exceeding 50 percent of the contract amount for the purchase of Covid-19 drugs and vaccines.
At present, LGUs may procure Covid-19 vaccines through tripartite agreements with the national government and vaccine manufacturers.
Duterte also certified as urgent the proposed law mandating an indemnification fund for people who might experience possible adverse effects of the vaccines.
The indemnity or no-fault agreement is one of the requirements before the Vaccines Global Access facility could deliver Covid-19 vaccines to the Philippines.
The pending bills before the Senate and the House of Representatives seek to put up a P500-million indemnity fund to provide compensation to people who suffer adverse side effects.
Roque agreed that there is a need to ensure availability of national funds to compensate Filipinos in case they die or experience serious side effects after getting inoculated with Covid-19 vaccine.
Galvez earlier noted that the indemnification requirements have caused delays in the arrival of an initial batch of 117,000 doses of Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines through the COVAX facility.
The government is targeting to launch the mass vaccination drive in the country this month.
Frontline health workers will be the first to receive the vaccine shots, based on the immunization plan of the government.*PNA