Entire industries are being blocked by the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force (NTF) from procuring COVID-19 vaccines, Senator Imee Marcos revealed Saturday.
Marcos said she got hold of a draft administrative order, about to be passed on for President Duterte’s signature, that will prevent the country’s largest manufacturers of tobacco, milk, sugar, soda, and alcohol products, as well as multinational firms based in the Philippines, from assisting the government’s national vaccination program.
“That means the entire San Miguel group, the whole Lucio Tan group, Puregold, Nestle, Destileria Limtuaco, all soft drinks producers, Tanduay, Ginebra, White Castle, et cetera,” Marcos pointed out in a statement.
“If these giant companies cannot buy vaccines, 50% of which will be donated to the public because the government lacks funding, how else will we acquire more vaccines?” the senator added.
This developed as Assistant Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo on Saturday urged the government to allow private companies to import COVID-19 vaccine tax-free for their employees and their families.
“This is the only way the government can speed up vaccination and attain its goal of achieving herd immunity this year by inoculating at least 70 million of the country’s more than 100-million population,” she said. Maricel Cruz
Almost three weeks since March 1 when vaccines donated by China and provided by the World Health Organization were rolled out, the vaccination program is still progressing at a snail’s pace, Castelo said.
She noted that as of March 16 the Department of Health reported that around 216,000 frontline workers had received the first dose of the vaccine.
“The administrative order totally contradicts the ‘shared responsibility’ and collaboration the government has sought from the private sector and other organizations through its Philippine National Deployment and Vaccination Plan for COVID-19,” Marcos said.