‘Goal is vaccines for all’

Senator Joel Villanueva scored the proposal to exclude certain firms from the government’s vaccine procurement program, saying such a move, if implemented, would hamper the efforts on speeding up the roll out of vaccines across the broader population.

Villanueva referred to Section 5 of a draft administrative order by the Department of Health circulating in the public which stated that the DOH and the National Task Force would “ensure that private entities who will be part of the agreement are not in any way related to the tobacco industry, products covered under EO 51 series of 1986 or the “National Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, Breastmilk Supplement and Other Related Products” or other industries in conflict with public health.”

“The supposed provision is inconsistent with our common goal of vaccinating our people so every worker can go back to work without fear of getting sick. Papaano bibilis ang pagpaparami ng stockpile ng bakuna kung sinasara natin ang pakikipagusap sa iilan?” said Villanueva in a statement. “Vaccines should be made available for all. No company should be excluded.”

“Sa huling tala noong March 15, 215,997 pa lang ang nabigyan ng first dose mula sa ating 1,125,600 na vaccine stockpile. Kailangan pa pong pabilisin ang rollout ng bakuna, at magagawa natin ito sa tulong ng pribadong sektor,” he added.

“Why are we discriminating against these industries? They are not asking for vaccine subsidies. They are legitimate businesses with a number of employees. If they are willing to vaccinate their employees for free, why stop them? We should encourage the private sector to vaccinate their employees so that the government can just focus on vaccinating the frontliners, including minimum wage earners and contractual workers, government workers and our teachers,” Villanueva said.

The lawmaker pointed out that private sector-led vaccine procurement should adhere to conditions set by the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act or Republic Act No. 11525, as well as other local and international protocols, especially in administering the vaccine among its respective organizations. He said the private sector should not resell the vaccine, and only procure and give it to their employees for free, while some may distribute it at cost.

“Our government should allow the partnership with the private sector without any hindrance or discrimination,” he added.

He expressed hope that the Department of Health would be prevailed to scrutinize its administrative order closely and rescind any provision that runs contrary to the efficient and massive rollout of vaccines.

Villanueva likewise expressed concern on a provision calling for the digital issuance of the vaccination card, pointing out that it would only add to the government’s backlog since it has yet to roll out an efficient contact tracing system.

“Isang taon na po ang nakalipas, ngunit wala pa rin tayong maayos na contact tracing system. While it is a good idea, this might just delay the vaccination program. We cannot afford anymore delays,” Villanueva said.