House sets COVID vaccine hearing

House sets COVID vaccine hearing; invites Duque, Galvez

The House of Representatives, under Speaker Lord Allan Velasco, will hold its own public hearing on the government’s COVID-19 vaccination plan next week to ensure that the multibillion-peso budget allocated for inoculation will be used to procure the most effective and safest vaccine against the virus.

The House Committee on Health, chaired by Quezon 4th District Rep. Angelina “Helen” Tan, has scheduled for January 18 a virtual hearing which includes Health Secretary Francisco Duque and National Task Force Against COVID-19 Chief Implementer and vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. among the list of health experts from the public and private sectors who have been invited by the panel.

“There have been a lot of differing opinions, mostly from non-medical experts, regarding government-procured vaccines,” Tan said. “As such, we would like to hear from the experts themselves to determine facts and figures from a scientific point of view.”

Tan was hoping that through the hearing, Congress will be able to ascertain concrete legislative actions that will help the Executive in ensuring the planned mass vaccination will be a success.

“Congress will do what it can to help government agencies in arresting the pandemic,” said Tan, who is a physician by profession.

She added: “We all want to return to our daily routines before COVID-19. As representatives of the people in Congress, we will do our part in making that happen sooner rather than later.”

Tan said the hearing will be a jump-off point for deliberations on pending resolutions referred to her committee. Parañaque Rep. Joy Tambunting had filed House Resolution 1227 asking the Department of Health for a comprehensive plan for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

Also, Sultan Kudarat Rep. Princess Rihan Sakaluran urged the government to lay down a COVID-19 vaccination program plan to ensure the “just, fair, and equal” distribution of the vaccines through House Resolution 1332.

Aside from Duque and Galvez, also invited to the hearing were representatives from the Food and Drug Administration, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Health Technology Assessment Council, Department of Science and Technology, and World Health Organization.

The committee had also sent invitations to the Department of Budget and Management, Department of Finance, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Foreign Affairs, and Department of National Defense.

Medical experts from civic organizations Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines, Philippine Medical Association, Philippine Nurses Association, and Philippine Association of Medical Technologists will also attend.

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