Senator Panfilo Lacson on Tuesday said the Senate will summon anew Vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. during the continuation of the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing on the government’s procurement of Covid-19 vaccines to squeeze details of the agreement with China’s Sinovac.
Lacson added that Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III will preside at the public hearing and it is up to senators to move to hold an executive session as Galvez had initially agreed to.
“Based on the announcement of Senate President Sotto, we will be holding a public hearing but the Senate cannot preclude that in the course of the public hearing, some senators will move for an executive session and if approved by the majority, we can transfer to an executive session,” Lacson said.
He added that Galvez earlier agreed to disclose the details of the agreement between the government and Sinovac in an executive session.
“We will know if our agreement with Secretary Galvez is still valid. He asked for certain conditions,” Lacson added.
He noted that Galvez requested an executive session in view of the confidentiality disclosure agreement (CDA) that the government signed with Sinovac.
“An executive session is sacred to the Senate. The penalty for those who will disclose any information in an executive session is expulsion, not merely suspension,” Lacson noted.
“We can wave that provision that we can divulge details of the hearing if there is a two-thirds vote because we are bound to our commitment with Secretary Galvez that no information will be made public,” he added.
Lacson said that the information during the executive session will be used as future reference.
On the other hand, Lacson contradicted the claim of Galvez that he took credit for the decrease in the price of the Sinovac being offered to the government.
“That is in the realm of possibilities. If it was not disclosed to the public, the negotiations will continue and we will pay P1,800 per dose, or P3,600 for two doses. The Senate has shared in bringing down the price of Sinovac and we are also giving credit to the netizens for their research. This is not credit-grabbing,” he added.
Lacson added that the $5 per dose in Thailand came from the official Facebook page of the Prime Minister contrary to the claim of Palace officials that it came from unverified reports.
“The figures came from official data. If we will allow the $14 dollars being claimed by the government, that is equivalent to $350 million or P15.8 billion. We are only asking for an indicative price. If officials were only upright on the issue, this will not result in controversy,” Lacson added.
“Now they are saying, the price is comparable to P683 of Indonesia. It’s between P650 to P700. If they only said it beforehand, we will have no problem,” he noted.
On the other hand, Lacson supported Galvez proposal to allot indemnification funds for Filipinos who will suffer side effects because of the vaccination program.
“It is a welcome suggestion. In the absence of insurance since we have no protection for the people, the government needs to provide compensation package for those who will agree to be vaccinated,” Lacson said.