House to probe government's COVID-19 vaccination program

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 17) - The House of Representatives Committee on Health is set to hold a hearing on the government’s COVID-19 vaccination plan to find out the prices of different vaccine brands and their availability.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. have been invited to the hearing on Monday, Jan. 18.

Quezon Rep. Helen Tan, who chairs the committee, said lawmakers can ask government officials and other guests on the prices of the COVID-19 vaccines in an executive session.

“It’s important that we learn whether the vaccines procured are as cost-efficient as they are safe and effective,” said Tan in a statement.

“We would also like to inquire whether Filipinos will be afforded the opportunity to choose and purchase out-of-pocket their choice of vaccines, and how much these will cost for those who would choose this option,” she added.

The Congress had passed ₱72.5 billion for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines under the 2021 national budget, with the aim to inoculate up to 70 million Filipinos.

As sessions resume, House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez said the chamber will work on the immediate approval of the proposed Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) and amendments to Anti-Money Laundering Act (Republic Act 9160) once they hurdle the bicameral conference committee.

Other priority measures that the House plans to approve on third and final reading in the coming weeks include the proposed Magna Carta of Filipino Seafarers, the bill extending the implementation of a lifeline rate for low-income electricity consumers, and the proposed additional benefits for solo parents.