House Speaker urges national gov't to allow LGUs to directly buy COVID-19 vaccines

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House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Wednesday discussed a bill that seeks to expedite the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, during a meeting with Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 10) — House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Wednesday discussed a bill that seeks to expedite the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines, during a meeting with Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

Velasco, Leyte Rep. Martin Romualdez and Abang Lingkod Rep. Joseph Paduano have filed House Bill 8648, which would authorize local government units to procure their own vaccines without public bidding, as long as they are registered or allowed emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration.

The current arrangement requires LGUs to enter a tripartite agreement with the pharmaceutical company and the national government.

The bill also proposes to exempt local government units from import duties, taxes and other fees as earlier suggested by Muntinlupa Rep. Ruffy Biazon. 

Velasco posted photos of the meeting with Galvez and Duque, saying they also discussed the simulation exercises of the vaccine rollout, a centralized database and monitoring system, and a "passport" system for Filipinos to show proof that they were vaccinated.

Galvez, the Department of Health and the FDA earlier emphasized that the tripartite setup must be followed to align national and local vaccination efforts. Malacañang also warned against breaching the agreement. Galvez earlier said the country was able to save $700 million in deals through the national government's negotiation efforts.

Galvez and Duque have yet to issue statements about the meeting with Velasco.

Vaccines are expected to arrive in the country within the month.