MANILA – The Congress should have been informed about “huge” transactions made by government, such as the purchase of dengue vaccines worth PHP3.5 billion, before it pushed through, a senator said Friday.
Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito made this remark a day after the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee probe into the issue, insisting that while it might have been done in good faith, there was still “undue haste”.
It may be recalled that former budget secretary Florencio Abad confirmed that the amount used to purchase the vaccines was not in the General Appropriations Act (GAA).
Abad said the government instead used savings from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF) since it would no longer be usable after the end of the year it was purchased, 2015.
“With this huge sum of transaction, shouldn’t they have informed the Congress about this? It’s too big an amount to have transactions without the Congress knowing it,” he added.
It took the Aquino administration only a month to purchase the vaccines.
During Thursday’s hearing, former president Benigno Aquino III said he met with Sanofi officials on Dec. 1, 2015 during his visit to attend the COP21 climate deal in Paris.
After then health secretary Janette Garin submitted a proposal to the Department of Budget and Management on the dengue vaccines, it was approved by the Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Dec. 22, 2015.
On Dec. 23, Abad issued a memorandum to fund projects under the MPBF, one of which was the dengue vaccination program.
Eventually, the DBM issued a Special Allotment Release Order to the DOH obligating PHP3.5 billion for the dengue immunization program on December 29.
Abad explained that this amount was used to purchase the vaccines. (PNA)