Duterte insists gov't can't bare yet prices of COVID-19 vaccines due to non-disclosure agreement
President Rodrigo Duterte justified on Monday why the government could not divulge yet the prices of the vaccines for coronavirus disease as they are covered by the non-disclosure agreement with the pharmaceutical companies.
In his public message, Duterte cited a report in Malaysia quoting legal experts that breaking the non-disclosure agreement could lead to cancellation of vaccine delivery.
"In every negotiation, it's a different agreement. It does not involve money. But one thing is certain: you cannot divulge the contract price agreed upon," he said.
For those who were apparently doubting Vaccine Czar Carlito Galvez Jr. who has been responsible in negotiating with various vaccine manufacturers, Duterte said the retired general is merely an agent of the Philippine government and he did not have the money with him.
"He has no say in the payment because it is purely paper. The manufacturers will get (the payment) from the bank because that is where we borrowed (the money)...and the pricing and the paper will not be final until it is reviewed by the Secretary of Finance because he's the one to pay," he said.
He denied that there is corruption in the government's move to purchase vaccines, especially with China's Sinovac.
The Senate and House of Representatives have been conducting an investigation on the government's immunization program, including purchase of COVID-19 vaccines.
Some senators wondered why the Duterte administration has been pushing for Sinovac, which has only about 50 percent efficacy compared with America's Pfizer, which has over 90 percent efficacy.
Duterte scorned the lawmakers who wanted Pfizer over Sinovac.
"You, senators, you want Pfizer, in Norway, 25 persons died after receiving Pfizer vaccination. You want this? We will order for you," he said.
About 29 elderly persons in Norway have died after they received Pfizer vaccine. But an investigation is being conducted to determine if the vaccine was the real cause of the deaths.
Duterte said that the government has been pushing for Sinovac because during the early part of the COVID-19 pandemic, he called up Chinese President Xi Jinping.
"I told him (Xi) we don't have resources. We do not know how to make it. Please do not forget the Philippines," he said.
During the recent visit of Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in the Philippines, he announced that China will be donating 500,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccine. The brand was not disclosed.
China has two state-owned manufacturing companies, Sinovac and Sinopharm, that have developed a vaccine for COVID-19.
The Philippines has secured 25 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Sinovac, with an initial delivery of 50,000 doses next month.
Galvez, in the same meeting when Duterte delivered his public message, said they were also told by the pharmaceutical companies to respect the non-disclosure agreement, otherwise, the government could lose its integrity. Celerina Monte/DMS