'Purely papel': Money for vaccines won't pass through government, Duterte says
A health worker holds empty vials of the Sinovac vaccine against the Covid-19 coronavirus at Meuraxa Hospital in Banda Aceh on January 15, 2021.

'Purely papel': Money for vaccines won't pass through government, Duterte says

(Philstar.com) - January 19, 2021 - 8:41am

MANILA, Philippines — Money borrowed to pay for the COVID-19 vaccination program in the Philippines will not pass through the government, President Rodrigo Duterte said late Monday night to address speculations on pricing.

The Department of Health earlier Monday said that figures on vaccine prices did not reflect the actual prices that the government is negotiating for. It said these were indicative prices from manufacturers and that these were used to come up with a proposed budget for the vaccination program.

The Palace on the same day dismissed figures senators have been using in discussions on the program as "fake news" even if they were sourced from the DOH. 

Duterte on Monday night shielded vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., who has fielded questions at the Senate and the House on the program and on a deal for 25 million doses of Chinese drugmaker Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine, from allegations the government is favoring the reportedly more expensive and less effective vaccine.   

READ: Still possible to call off purchase of Sinovac vaccines, Galvez says

"All that Galvez can do is just to come to an agreement as representative or agent of the Republic of the Philippines. He has no say sa bayaran kung saan because it is purely papel (He has no say on the payments, which are purely on paper)," Duterte said.

He said the vaccine manufacturer will get the money directly from banks that will be paying for the vaccines. In an earlier briefing, Galvez said that the Asian Development Bank, World Bank, and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank are the procurement agents for the vaccines.

"Hindi na tayo makialam diyan. And the pricing and the paper will not be final until it is reviewed by the Secretary of Finance kasi siya ‘yung magbayad pati ako. Kung maintindihan ninyo," Duterte said.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said last November that the administration would borrow P40 billion from multilateral agencies like the ADB and World Bank and P20 billion from domestic sources like Land Bank of the Philippines, Development Bank of the Philippines and government-owned and controlled corporations.

About P13.2 billion will be borrowed from bilateral sources.

READ: Government to spend P73.2 billion for vaccines

At a briefing earlier Monday, Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque, citing the Civil Code, said government already has a "binding obligation" after it signed a deal with the Chinese drugmaker.

In a statement Sunday, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, citing a Bangkok Post report, said that Sinovac’s vaccine may cost as little as $5 (P240) per dose but may be sold as much as $38 (P1,847.25) in the Philippines.

Galvez, in response, said that reports that Sinovac shots are priced at $36 or $76.5 were "very erroneous."

Roque over the weekend said that the pricing of CoronaVac "[is] not far from the price given to Indonesia, which is about P650 per dose." — Jonathan de Santos

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