The Senate aims to approve the measure seeking to establish a vaccine indemnity fund and expedite the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines on second and third final reading on Monday, Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said Thursday.
Zubiri made the remark after President Rodrigo Duterte certified as urgent Senate Bill 2057 and House Bill 8648, which both provide for the indemnification fund and the speedy COVID-19 vaccine procurement.
“We will try to pass it on second and third reading by Monday,” Zubiri told reporters in a message.
The Senate leader earlier said they can approve their version of the measure on second and third reading on Wednesday if the certification of urgency would be released that day.
Certifying a bill as urgent allows Congress to approve the measure on second and third reading on the same day.
Once the Senate approves its version of the measure, a bicameral conference committee meeting may immediately be set to reconcile potential differences with the counterpart bill of the House of Representatives, he added.
Senate Bill 2057 seeks to authorize the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force Against COVID-19 (NTF) to undertake negotiated procurement of COVID-19 vaccines and the ancillary supplies and services for their storage, transport, and distribution.
The LGUs will be allowed to make advance payments but they can only purchase vaccines and supplies for up to 50% of their target population. The 50% cap may be adjusted by the IATF depending on the supply.
At the same time, private entities, in cooperation with the DOH and NTF, will also be allowed to purchase vaccines for their own use through a multiparty agreement.
Purchases of COVID-19 vaccines and the necessary supplies for their storage, transport, and distribution will be exempted from customs duties, value-added tax (VAT), excise tax, donor’s tax, and other fees and charges.
A P500-million COVID-19 National Indemnity Fund will also be established under the measure and will only be used to compensate any inoculated person who will experience severe adverse effect or worse death. —KBK, GMA News

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