The invocation by government officials of the “Non-Disclosure Agreement” (NDA) to conceal the prices of procured vaccines violates Philippine laws on transparency and accountability in the purchase of goods and services.
This was underscored by Rep. Edcel C. Lagman as he urged the Commission on Audit (COA) to investigate, determine, and audit the purchases of vaccines of all brands contracted by the Department of Health (DOH) and the National Task Force (NTF).
Lagman told COA Chairman Michael Aguinaldo during the COA budget briefing on Thursday, September 3, 2021, that the “Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021” under RA 11525 and the Government Procurement Reform Act under RA 9184 unequivocally demand transparency and accountability in the government’s procurement process.
Aguinaldo agreed with Lagman that the constitutional mandate of the COA to audit government expenditures and disbursements is an exception to the NDA.
Sec. 6 of the “Covid-19 Vaccination Program Act” on “Transparency and Accountability in Covid-19 Vaccine Procurement” requires that “the name of the supplier, manufacturer or distributor” and the “amount of contract as awarded” must be posted in a conspicuous place of the procuring entity as well as in the Government Procurement Policy Board online portal.
Sec. 3 of the Government Procurement Reform Act provides that among the governing principles on government procurement are: (1) “transparency in the procurement process and the implementation of procurement contracts”; and (2) a “system of accountability where both the public officials directly or indirectly involved in the procurement process as well as in the implementation of procurement contracts and the parties that deal with the government are, when warranted by circumstances, investigated and held liable for their actions relative thereto.”
The NDA also infringes on the Constitution which mandates the COA to audit government expenditures.
The DOH and NTF must reveal at least to the COA the actual prices of the vaccines they have procured in order for the State auditors to determine how much of the budget has been utilized and whether the procurement is aboveboard.
The NDA cannot be ascendant over the Constitution and Philippine domestic laws.
EDCEL C. LAGMAN