‘Against PH laws’: Drilon backs NTF stand vs blanket immunity for vaccine makers
Robie de Guzman • February 26, 2021 • 400
MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said the government cannot grant absolute and blanket immunity to vaccine manufacturers, saying it is against the law and contrary to public policy.
Drilon issued the statement in support of National Task Force (NTF) COVID-19 and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr., who earlier said that the government cannot agree to a full immunity for vaccine makers.
Galvez revealed late Wednesday that there are vaccine makers that demand full immunity but said the government cannot do so out of concern over malpractices and willful misconduct.
“Under the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act Congress passed last February 22, COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers are immune from suits for claims arising out of the administration of the COVID-19 vaccine, but not for willful misconduct or gross negligence,” Drilon said.
The senator cited Section 8 of the said measure which states that “notwithstanding any law to the contrary, public officials and employees, contractors, manufacturers, volunteers, and representatives of duly authorized private entities who are duly authorized to carry out and are actually carrying out the COVID-19 vaccination program shall be immune from suit and liability under Philippine laws with respect to all claims arising out, related to, or resulting from the administration or use of a COVID-19 vaccine under the COVID-19 vaccination program except arising from willful misconduct and gross negligence.”
“The government cannot extend a blanket immunity to vaccine manufacturers as it is against the law and contrary to public policy,” Drilon said.
The lawmaker, however, noted that any vaccine recipient can file claims for damages, based on the vaccine manufacturers’ liabilities arising from willful misconduct and gross negligence.
“It is part of their individual and private rights that cannot be set aside by the government,” he explained.
According to Drilon, gross negligence is defined by the Supreme Court as “negligence characterized by the want of even slight care, or by acting or omitting to act in a situation where there is a duty to act, not inadvertently but willfully and intentionally, with a conscious indifference to the consequences, insofar as other persons may be affected.”
Willful misconduct, on the other hand, exists where the acts “were impelled by an intention to violate the law, or were in persistent disregard of one’s rights, as evidenced by a flagrantly or shamefully wrong or improper conduct.”
Drilon also said the establishment of an indemnity fund to compensate inoculated individuals who would experience severe adverse effects is also provided in the measure.
“The government set up the an indemnity fund to compensate any person inoculated through the vaccination program. The indemnity fund will take care of the costs for deaths, permanent disabilities and hospital confinements caused by vaccination”, Drilon said.
The bill likewise earmarked P500 million of the President’s P13 billion contingent fund for the COVID-19 National Vaccine Indemnity Fund. It will be administered by PhilHealth.
Drilon said the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Law will not only expedite the purchase and administration of vaccines but also sets aside money to secure the interest of the people against unforeseen effects thereof.
The proposed vaccine bill is now up for President Rodrigo Duterte’s signature.
MANILA, Philippines — Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Tuesday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to call for a special Congressional session for the immediate passage of the proposed third Bayanihan Law or the Bayanihan to Arise as One Act that seeks to provide emergency cash assistance to families affected by the stricter protocols against COVID-19.
“I urge the President to call a special session of Congress to pass the proposed Bayanihan 3 and expand the government’s cash subsidy program amid the spike in COVID-19 cases,” Drilon said in a statement.
The senator said there is a need to provide more funding for the government’s response against COVID-19 in order to help the poor and the vulnerable sectors of society and small and medium enterprises heavily affected by the pandemic.
“Kailangan tugunan ito. Sa akin, kailangang tumawag ng special session ang Pangulo para po matugunan ito. Mag-realign ng mga items na hindi kailangan,” he said.
Drilon made the call after Malacañang said that the government will not extend additional aid for low-income families despite the one-week extension of the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna.
Drilon believes that affected families should continuously be provided with assistance due to difficulties they may experience amid the ECQ period.
In a radio interview, the senator also called for the realignment of some items in the General Appropriation Act to boost the government’s fund for COVID-19 response.
Under Article VI, Section 15 of the Constitution, the President is allowed to call a special session at any time.
Congress is currently on session break until May 17.
MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon has filed a measure that seeks to make ‘red-tagging’ punishable by up to 10-years in prison.
Senate Bill 2121 or an “Act Defining and Penalizing Red-Tagging,” which Drilon filed on Wednesday, seeks to criminalize red-tagging and provide for penalties as deterrence “in order to fix the legal gaps, address impunity and institutionalize a system of accountability.”
It also seeks to disqualify persons convicted of this crime from holding public office.
The bill defines red-tagging as the act of “labeling, vilifying, branding, naming, accusing, harassing, persecuting, stereotyping, or caricaturing individuals, groups, or organizations as state enemies, left-leaning, subversives, communists, or terrorists as part of a counter-insurgency or anti-terrorism strategy or program, by any state actor, such as law enforcement agent, paramilitary, or military personnel.”
“Any person found guilty of red-tagging shall be imprisoned for 10 years and shall suffer the accessory penalty of perpetual absolute disqualification to hold public office,” the measure stated.
“The passage of this bill will reverse the increasingly institutionalization and normalization of human rights violations and put a stop on the attacks against the members of the legal profession,” Drilon said in the bill’s explanatory note.
The senator said libel, or grave threats, is not appropriate when a state agent vilifies a person as an enemy of the state, thereby impinging an individual’s basic rights.
“It has resulted in serious human rights violations such as harassments, arbitrary arrests, detentions, and enforced disappearances. In some instances, being red-tagged is a prelude to death,” he said.
“The measure will likewise serve as a reminder to the government of its primary duty under the Constitution to serve and protect the people,” he added.
MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Franklin Drilon has questioned the P10-billion rescue package for companies heavily-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, calling it “grossly inadequate.”
In a statement on Wednesday, Drilon said the proposed amount is a “drop in the bucket” when compared to the government’s P19.5-billion fund to combat insurgency activities.
During a Senate hearing on the proposed Government Financial Institutions Unified Initiatives to Distressed Enterprises for Economic Recovery Act (Guide bill) on Wednesday, the senator stressed that rescuing strategically important companies (SIC) should be given priority since these can help save people’s employment.
He noted that the principal objective of the GUIDE bill is to give necessary access to credit and financial assistance to micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and SICs), affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Drilon questioned the sufficiency of the amount considering that the country suffered a 9.5 percent economic contraction in 2020, equivalent to P1.5 trillion, and an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent, equivalent to 4.5 million jobless Filipinos, due to the pandemic.
“Given all of these, I raise questions on the sincerity of the administration in helping these strategically important companies. Will it make a dent?” he asked.
“The P10 billion rescue package is a joke, especially if you look at it in the context of the P19.5 billion this government allocated to the anti-insurgency fund,” he added.
Drilon said there is clearly a need for the government to provide more meaningful interventions to help pandemic-hit companies, save jobs and revive the economy.
He also insisted that the government should put more funds from the national budget instead of utilizing the funds of the Land Bank of the Philippines and the Development Bank of the Philippines.
Under the measure, DBP and Landbank will be authorized to invest in, or enter into a joint venture agreement to incorporate a special holding company (SHC).
The SHC is intended to assist in the rehabilitation of strategically important companies affected by COVID-19 pandemic which are experiencing temporary solvency issues.
The bill provides for a capital infusion of P7.5 billion to LBP and P2.5 billion to DBP.
Drilon said using the existing funds of the state banks poses risks to their financial positions.
“I hope that the subcommittee can review the proposed structure of the special holding company, review the total financial exposure of the government in incorporating this, and check the finances of the LBP and DBP,” he said.
“We should also place more safeguards in the bill to ensure that the people’s money is protected,” he added.
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