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Rm. N-411, House of Representatives, Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines
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THE non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) shrouding the purchase of Covid-19 vaccines could constitute dubious schemes. They could be covering up the avarice for exorbitant profits of the vaccine manufacturers and distributors. They could hide their enormous profits from the taxman. They could mask corrupt practices of government officials who negotiate and sign the sales contract. They could conceal from State auditors and the people the marauding of scarce public funds by government functionaries.

WHEN a relative or friend bids farewell to relocate to a foreign land, all know of his safe departure; when one falls gravely ill and dies, the family has the solace of burying the loved one in a burial site where the departed can be visited at any time. However, when one is forcibly disappeared, the family is left in torment not knowing where the desaparecido was secluded, how excruciatingly he or she was tortured, and whether the disappeared was summarily killed. Not even a makeshift cross marks the victim’s grave.

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).

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte vowed during his 2016 campaign to release all political prisoners “without preconditions as part of confidence-building measures.” Duterte broke his promise. Moreover, after he unilaterally suspended indefinitely the peace accord negotiation between the government of the Republic of the Philippines and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), some of the few political prisoners who were released as peace consultants were recommitted to prison where they are languishing with about 400 other political prisoners nationwide.