Private firms now allowed to import COVID-19 vaccines in the Philippines

President Rodrigo Roa Dutete discusses matters with Presidential Spokesperson Herminio “Harry” Roque Jr., Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, Presidential Adviser on Peace Process and National Task Force against Coronavirus Disease-2019 (NTF COVID-19) chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr., and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III prior to the start of the meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on March 29, 2021. I King Rodriguez, Presidential Photo

Private entities can now import COVID-19 vaccines “at will” after President Rodrigo Roa Duterte gave the go ahead allowing them to bring in the vaccines they need for their workers in addition to those secured by the government.

In a public address on Monday evening, March 29, President Duterte said countries now compete over vaccine supply as they grapple to inoculate their respective population against the highly contagious coronavirus that has put the world in a standstill.

“Nag-aagawan sila ngayon at ang sabi ko hinold (hold) ang ano, hinold. Now, dapat sabihin ‘yan kasi para malaman rin natin na how unfair it is really, especially if we are on the side of the poor na ‘yong ma-hold ‘yong bakuna,” President Duterte said.

“So wala man tayong magawa. Ang akin ng decision is I have ordered Secretary Galvez to sign any and all documents that would allow the private sector to import at will. Maski magkano o ilan ang gusto nilang ipasok okay sa akin,” he added.

There’s no assurance that the private sector can secure COVID-19 vaccine supply, the President said, noting dozens of business entities have shown intention to buy the vaccine for their workers.

Private companies are eager to vaccinate their workforces so that the economy could reopen and their business operations could return to normalcy, according to the President.

The Palace has said previously that all private firms could opt to procure COVID-19 vaccines by getting into a tripartite agreement with the national government since procurements for commercial purposes are still not possible.

On Monday afternoon, President Duterte welcomed the arrival of one million vaccine doses procured by the government from China’s Sinovac BioTech, which are intended for the country’s healthcare workers.

Meanwhile, President Duterte warned those importing and distributing counterfeit COVID-19 vaccines to stop their illegal activities citing their threat to public safety.

“Ito bang nagpapabili ng mga fake, itong nag-i-import na ‘yong walang ano, walang source tapos peke, tapos ang mga tao magpabakuna, magbayad nang mahal dahil nga may bakuna available hindi na maghintay,” he said.

“I’m just warning you, huwag na huwag kayong magkamali dito na hirap na ang Pilipino tapos dagdagan mo ng ganitong pamaraan ng hanapbuhay, pupulutin ka talaga kung saan.”

Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal were placed under enhanced community quarantine from March 29 to April 4 to curb the increasing number of COVID-19 infections.

The Department of Health (DOH) has recorded 10, 016 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, bringing the total number of infections in the country to 731,894 as of March 29 with 603,213 recoveries and 13,186 deaths.

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