Gatchalian: No to discrimination against some firms in COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Wes Gatchalian 2

Valenzuela City Rep. Weslie Gatchalian. (HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES PHOTO)

MANILA, Philippines – House Deputy Speaker and Valenzuela City Rep. Weslie Gatchalian urged the World Health Organization (WHO) and different well being authorities to chorus from issuing “premature assumptions” against authentic industries together with tobacco, alcohol and toddler system producers who’re simply making an attempt to shield their workforce and households from COVID-19 by procuring vaccines.

“My appeal to public health authorities like WHO whose expertise we greatly value in advising us policymakers and regulatory officials is to set aside certain assumptions they have about certain companies and help us as a nation make sure that no one is left behind,” Gatchalian stated in a press release.

Gatchalian was reacting to the assertion of WHO consultant in the Philippines Rabindra Abeyasinghe who stated the Department Health’s (DOH) proposed exclusion from the vaccine rollout of the stated firms was due to the priority that COVID-19 vaccines they might be procuring might be used to promote their merchandise.

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Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO consultant to the Philippines. INQUIRER.web file picture / Cathrine Gonzales

‘Unlawful, discriminatory’

While the controversial DOH provision was eliminated following the outcry of a number of lawmakers and stakeholders, the Federation of Philippines Industry, one the nation’s greatest affiliation of producers and industries, referred to as for the speedy repeal of the principles that have been used as foundation for the “unlawful” and “discriminatory” DOH proposal.

The WHO was criticized for justifying the unique proposal of the DOH which might have prevented firms like San Miguel Corp., your complete Lucio Tan group, Coca-Cola, Puregold, Nestlé, Destileria Limtuaco and all tender drinks and alcoholic beverage producers from procuring vaccines for his or her staff.

Gatchalian notably famous the WHO’s “premature” assumption that tobacco and toddler system producers may use COVID-19 vaccines they plan to procure for his or her staff and dependents to promote their advocacy.

covid-19 vaccine

This illustrative {photograph} taken in a studio reveals a miniature procuring cart with syringe and bottles studying “Covid-19 Vaccine”, in Paris, on January 8, 2021. (Photo by JOEL SAGET / AFP)

The controversial DOH draft order instantly drew flak from numerous sectors and personalities, together with Senate President Vicente Sotto III, Senate President Pro-tempore Ralph Recto, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Senator Imee Marcos, and Representatives, Jericho Nograles, Michael Defensor, Ace Barbers, Bernadette Herrera, Stella Luz Quimbo and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.

The DOH, nonetheless, defended its actions, citing as foundation Executive Order 51 on milk merchandise and Joint
Memorandum Circular (JMC) 2010-01 which prohibits authorities officers and staff from interacting with the tobacco business.

It was likewise revealed that the JMC was issued in the identical yr the DOH and the Civil Service Commission acquired huge grants from the anti-tobacco NGO Bloomberg Initiative.

FPI Chairman Jesus Arranza urged the federal government to revisit the premise of these pointers.

“As these circulars appear to have been often misconstrued, it is high-time for the CSC and the government to revisit and repeal these guidelines to ensure the avoidance of discriminatory and unjust policies emanating from them,” Arranza stated.

“In this time of the pandemic, we need all the help we can get,” he added.

Equal entry to vaccines

WHO’s Abeyasinghe has publicly defended the DOH’s anti-tobacco provisions in the draft round, which was finally ordered scratched by Malacanang following the general public outcry.

Gatchalian stated such assumptions by the WHO would forestall the Philippines from offering equal entry to the COVID-19 vaccines.

“At this time when we have to win against a pandemic that has caused numerous loss of lives and continues to negatively impact the ability of the Filipino people to work, to go to school, to see their families, we need to unite and make sure no one is left behind and discriminated upon,” Gatchalian careworn.

Gatchalian identified that Republic Act No. 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Law permits firms to procure vaccines for using their staff.

Prioritizing staff, easing gov’t burden

The House chief stated that with the shortage of the vaccines in the meanwhile, these firms are anticipated to prioritize their staff and dependents.

“Even if they had already incurred huge losses because of the pandemic, they are still prioritizing the welfare of their employees by ordering their own supply of vaccines. And by doing so, they are lessening the burden of the national government by not requesting for allocations,” he stated.

“It is in their best interest to protect their employees.”

Gatchalian additionally criticized the WHO for trying down on the stated firms and corporations in the course of the pandemic.

He stated that whereas many firms have closed  down amid the pandemic, others remained open, so they may proceed to assist their workforce present for his or her households and pay taxes.

Malacañang not too long ago introduced that every one personal firms, together with producers of tobacco, might be allowed to procure COVID-19  vaccines by means of a tripartite settlement with the nationwide authorities.

“We welcome the removal of the provision in the draft rules that would have restricted some companies from procuring the vaccines. We look forward to the private sector working hand-in-hand with government to achieve herd immunity against this deadly disease,” Gatchalian stated.


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