Senate sets hearing on vaccine storage, distribution

Cecille Suerte Felipe (The Philippine Star) – December 20, 2020 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate will launch an inquiry first thing next year to review government plans and programs to secure COVID-19 vaccines, particularly their storage and distribution.

Senate President Vicente Sotto III said yesterday the inquiry would be conducted by the Senate committee of the whole by the second Monday of January.

Sotto noted that officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) are still discussing specifics on the vaccination program and cannot yet provide the Senate with details. 

“Currently, they are discussing what proposal they will make for the distribution, disposal and then the equipment needed for the vaccine. They are talking about that now. So I will not call a hearing on Monday, because they are still talking,” Sotto said over radio dwIZ.

He also noted that the Christmas season may render many resource persons, mostly government officials, unavailable as they spend the holidays with their families.

“I won’t call a hearing even after Christmas. Hopefully, by the second Monday of January, they will be ready to answer our questions,” he said.

“When the vaccine arrives, they already know what to do. So now they are planning how to do it, because it is easy to say ‘Oh, there is a vaccine,’ but where to take it, who will do it, who will use it, where is the waste disposal, then how to do the procedure. Remember these are two doses. So they can’t answer that because you don’t have the vaccine yet,” Sotto added.

Senate Pro Tempore Ralph Recto and Sen. Francis Pangilinan filed a resolution calling for an inquiry and the Senate adopted the measure. 

Sotto said there is a need to look into the matter to promote transparency on how the government will manage the COVID-19 vaccines being funded with P72 billion of taxpayers’ money. 

“The inquiry is important to make sure the funds will not be wasted and to make it clear on how they would do it. And most of all, so that we (senators) can also help. Somehow, we can suggest what to do. After all, the Senate always gives suggestions,” Sotto said.

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