The national government cannot be held responsible for any negative side effects that may occur from COVID-19 vaccines procured by the private sector, said President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday.
“Ang gusto ng mga manufacturers…ang private sector ang magbili, ang gobyerno ang mag-assume ng liability. ‘Di pwede ‘yung ganun. May ano diyan, may malaking butas diyan, actually,” the President said in a meeting with government officials.
Duterte said he does not think such a provision would be legal even if they wanted to give businesses that freedom. He argued that only Congress has that legislative power.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a separate briefing that Duterte’s remark must not be taken in the wrong context, as the government cannot really be liable if serious adverse effects were seen due to “willful neglect and gross negligence.”
“Nakasaad po sa batas natin na bagamat gobyerno ang magbabayad sa [severe] side effects, may exceptions po rito — kung nagkaroon ng willful neglect or gross negligence,” said Roque.
Less than a month ago, Duterte signed the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, which allots ₱500 million for the indemnification fund to compensate those who may experience serious side effects or die after being vaccinated.
The bill also offers COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers immunity from lawsuits for claims arising from the inoculation.