Cebu City still undecided on vaccine procurement

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - February 23, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  While the Department of the Interior and Local Government has welcomed President Duterte's memorandum order granting local government units (LGUs) authority to make advance payments exceeding 15% for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines, Cebu City remains undecided as to what vaccines to procure.

“We cannot discuss vaccine procurement if we still do not know what vaccine brand is preferred. If needed, we will have a special session on Friday with regard to the vaccine?” said Cebu City Vice Mayor Michael Rama, the city’s vaccine convenor.

Rama, however, said he is in contact with Mayor Edgardo Labella and city administrator lawyer Floro Casas Jr. with respect to the vaccines.

A few days ago, President Duterte signed M.O. 51 allowing LGUs to make advance payments that exceed the 15% limit set under procurement laws provided they are authorized to make the procurement by the National Task Force COVID-19. The order takes effect immediately and will remain until the lifting of the state of calamity due to COVID-19.

The Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Government Procurement Reform Act says that an advance payment “shall be made only after prior approval of the President, and shall not exceed 15 percent of the contract amount, unless otherwise directed by the President.”

DILG officer-in-charge and undersecretary Bernardo Florece Jr. said this will hasten the acquisition of COVID-19 vaccines for all adult Filipino citizens.

“This development will ascertain that both the NTF and the LGUs will speed up the process of securing COVID-19 vaccines for their constituents. Malaking hakbang ito para sa lalo pang pagpapabilis ng proseso ng pagbili ng mga bakuna para sa ating mga kababayan,” Florece said.

He said that MO. No. 15 and the possible enactment of House Bill No. 8648 that will allow the importation of COVID-19 vaccines tax-free. He added that Senate Bill No.2057 seeking to fast-track the purchase and roll-out of COVID-19 together with the P500-million indemnification fund removes the barriers to the early delivery of vaccines to our country.

The League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) has expressed its gratitude to President Duterte for the order.

Along with this, Florece reminded all LGUs that the MO 15 provides that the procurement and payment of vaccines is subject to authorization from National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr., “subject to the criteria and limits to be identified by the NTF and Department of Health, consistent with applicable laws, rules, and regulations.” — JMD (FREEMAN)

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