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Vaccine contracts bar gov’t from disclosing prices, says Duterte

THE GOVERNMENT is barred from disclosing the prices of coronavirus vaccines it ordered from suppliers under the terms of the contracts, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said on Monday night.

“Every negotiation, that’s a different agreement,” the President said in a televised speech. “It does not involve money but one thing is certain: You cannot divulge the contract price,” he said in mixed English and Filipino, citing nondisclosure terms.

Mr. Duterte said keeping silent about the prices in a supply agreement is an “industry practice,” adding that disclosing the vaccine prices before deals are finalized could affect the government’s reputation.

Nondisclosure terms include “protecting medical trade secrets, special prices given to a particular country, the timeline of the vaccine,” vaccine czar Carlito A. Galvez, Jr. told an online news briefing on Tuesday. He added that the government might lose about 148 million doses of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines if it breaks the terms of the deal.

“Other countries also signed this agreement,” he said. “We assure you that we will not enter into a contract where we will lose.”

Mr. Galvez said there won’t be corruption in the government’s vaccination program, citing strict standards set by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank.

Presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque, Jr. said the government has an “executive privilege” not to disclose pricing information pending negotiations.

Vaccine deals between governments are similar to diplomatic negotiations, he pointed out. “Although a term sheet agreement is also a binding obligation, that is not yet a final agreement. The final agreement is the supply agreement,” he said.

Mr. Galvez said the supply agreement might be finalized before the month ends. The government will buy P82 billion worth of coronavirus vaccines, he added. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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