Press Release
February 16, 2021

'You don't hold a bidding for water supply when your neighbor's house is on fire'
Committee Report No. 185
Senate Bill No. 2057
Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph G. Recto

Mr. President, my dear colleagues:

If the virus is mutating, so must our rules in containing it. If it is spawning variants, the same must happen to our ways of defeating it.

The bureaucracy must always be faster than the virus, and nowhere is this speed more needed than in buying the one thing that could end it: vaccines.

Sadly, Mr. President, we seem to be at the tail end of the vaccine race, overtaken by countries with fewer resources, when we with more resources and more cases should be getting more.

They're getting 4 million doses of AstraZeneca in Timbuktu, in Mali, in April, and I am not joking, Mr. President, as it is in the news.

We can only watch in envy as planes unload vaccines from Myanmar to Harare.

This prompted the joke that government should have conducted contract-signing simulation before it held the vaccine-delivery drill.

Mr. President, we need all hands on deck. And the local governments are hopping on board.

They want to source their own, using money that is theirs. This unburdens the national government on two fronts: It will have to order fewer vaccines, and it will spend less money.

But while local governments are allowed, it is not a license for them to go on an unbridled vaccine shopping spree: There is no waiver on FDA approvals. Government clearances remain. The multiparty agreement stands. Delivery will follow IATF protocol. Vaccine equitability will be honored.

It simply means that what they will do will remain in the ambit of the national vaccination plan.

They will not be freelancing.

What they want is to stop freeloading on a national government under pressure to deliver as many vaccines to as many people as fast as possible.

Many local governments have, in fact, outhustled the national government when it comes to securing vaccines in a world where such is scarce.

How'd they do it? I don't know. But if this template yielded positive results, then instead of emasculating it, we should in fact be encouraging it.

It doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white, as long as it catches the mice. So let us allow more cats out of the bag.

Mr. President, the all-of-nation approach against COVID rejects the monopoly of ideas or of work.

Certainly, it should not centralize as well under one national authority the monopoly of buying vaccines—more so if it had been sputtering on the job.

We should stop further punishing a people running out of jobs, food and hope with the shortcomings and bungling of those who are supposed to alleviate their pain and not aggravate it.

This bill is a booster shot to the government's vaccine plan.

And let me note that it goes several steps further, Mr. President. It exempts vaccines from taxes, for why should government profit from universal misery?

The same exemption extends to the private sector, who should not be taxed for doing their patriotic duty.

Procurement rules will likewise be relaxed, in a manner that will "shorten the process without leaving the government shortchanged."

When your neighbor's house is on fire, you don't hold a public bidding for the supply of water.

As an author of a proposed Senate Resolution 617, which seeks the very same ends that this bill authorizes, I join Senator Migz and Senator Sonny in sponsoring this measure.

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