Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon  warned the Department of Health (DOH) from barring several companies in procuring vaccines for their employees.

He said it is patently “illegal and unauthorized” and can expose them to legal liabilities.

Drilon was reacting to  reports that the DOH  submitted to the President a draft administrative order that will ban several private companies from procuring their own COVID-19 vaccines.

“I am deeply disturbed by this report. If indeed such a draft administrative order exists, that is a clear violation of the COVID-19 Vaccination Act of 2021.  Such a policy is discriminatory and morally unacceptable. The DOH does not have the authority to do that,” Drilon said in a statement on March 21.

In the alleged order circulating in the social media, it is provided for that “the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19, together with the DOH shall review the requests of private entities to procure vaccines to ensure that private entities who will be part of the agreement are not in any way related to the tobacco industry, products covered under EO 51 series of 1986 or the national Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, breastmilk Supplement and Other Related Product” or other industries in conflict with public health.”

“It will be unlawful for the DOH and the NTF to do that. Republic Act 11525 allows private entities to procure COVID-19 vaccines in cooperation with the DOH. The law does not discriminate against or exclude companies based on their products, services or lines of business. The supposed administrative order, therefore, is discriminatory and it would go beyond the law and would constitute an actionable wrong,” said the former justice secretary.”

“Who is playing God here once more?” Drilon asked. “Please stop playing God. This is not the time for politics and selfish agenda. It is our moral responsibility to share the vaccine.”

Republic Act 11525 of the COVID-19 Vaccination Act of 2021 was passed by Congress last February to aid the speedy vaccination program against the coronavirus disease, he noted.

Section 5 of the law, according to Drilon, states that “private entities may procure COVID-19 vaccines only in cooperation with the DOH and the NTF through a multiparty agreement, which shall include the DOH and the relevant supplier of COVID-19 vaccine.”

Drilon warned Health Sec. Francisco Duque III that he will call for a Senate investigation if Duque insists on banning private entities from taking part in the vaccination program.

He said it would be best for the DOH to recall the alleged order immediately. The draft administrative order has reportedly been  submitted to the President for signature.

“The law recognizes the role of the private entities in arresting the pandemic. That law made them partners of government in ensuring that the workforce is safe and protected from the COVID-19,” he added.