Press Release
March 21, 2021

DOH-NTF is 'legislating by IRR' in proposed vaccine blacklist of industries

This is legislation by IRR (Implementing Rules and Regulations), a bad habit by bureaucrats who imagine themselves as the third chamber of Congress.

No such provision exists in the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 or Republic Act No. 11525.

Anyone can read through the transcript of the marathon 12-hour floor debates on that measure, and there's nothing there that will cause one to hallucinate that such an idea was even hinted at.

Two phrases in the draft section of the IRR will sabotage the public-private vaccination partnership.

One is that any private entity should not be in "any way related" to the tobacco industry, to the baby formula business.

So this can be read that a pharmaceutical company that plans to procure vaccines, half of which it shall donate to the government, cannot do so simply because it has breastmilk substitutes in its product catalog.

Also, will an airline company with an interlocking directorship with a tobacco company be likewise banned under that provision?

The second questionable phrase is that the ban covers companies dealing with "other products in conflict with public health."

But the list in the government almanac of unhealthy products whose consumption is punished by a tax is long. It includes soda, sugared products and alcohol.

So the company making Ginebra is disqualified despite its donation of a gazillion liters of disinfectant alcohol to hospitals?

Under the proposed "relationship rule", its parent company, San Miguel--despite donating billions of pesos to the pandemic fight--will be disqualified from buying vaccines it plans to give to its workers and to the government for free.

Reigning global emperador of liquor, Andrew Tan, will also not be allowed to buy vaccines under a 50-50 deal with government, based on the expressed intent of the provision.

The Gokongweis are into sugared drinks. Will this put them under the negative list?

What is wrong with these people in the DOH and NTF that they will not allow private wealth to be used for public welfare?

Sin tax paid by sweetened beverages was P38.6 billion in 2019, and P28.6 billion in 2020. For alcohol, it was P77 billion in 2019, and P62 billion in 2020. Tobacco was P147 billion in 2019, and P139 billion in 2020.

If these merchants of sin would like to plow back their profits in the form of vaccines, half for their workers and half for the people, why would a fumbling government illegalize such an offer of help?

The COVID Vaccination Law has ironclad rules and guarantees that will prevent and punish any violation in the procurement, prioritization and administration of vaccines.

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