Pharma gives city gov’t copy of vaccine contract

DG file photo

By Dolly Yasa

BACOLOD City – Bacolod City Mayor Alfredo “Albee” Benitez said Friday that AstraZeneca pharmaceutical firm provided the city government a copy of the contract covering the acquisition of 650,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines that amounted to P150 million.

The contract was between AztraZeneca and the administration of former Mayor Evelio Leonardia.

On Thursday, Atty. Bong Dilag, spokesman of Benitez, said that the contract was missing and all they have was a draft.

Benitez said that Astra Zeneca gave them a copy of the original contract Thursday.

“The contract is under review,” Benitez told reporters in an ambush interview Friday morning.

The mayor further said that “We just have a copy so we will take a look at it, and we will see what can be done but definitely since it is a tripartite arrangement I will seek national assistance in terms of settling this account.”

He said he will also coordinate with the Department of Health which also took part in the tripartite agreement together with the National Inter-Agency Task Force (NIATF).

On whether he will be asking that the 434,000 doses will be replaced, Benitez said “those are the things that we are discussing, I will try to see all the options available and we will decide accordingly on what is best for Bacolod.”

Benitez said on Monday that representatives of Astra Zeneca met with him which he thought was a courtesy call at first but he was informed by the group that they want to collect the balance of the city government of P98 million for the remaining 434,000 doses of vaccines.

But Benitez was also informed that these vaccines which were supposedly been delivered to the city last year were not accepted because they were close to expiring then.

These vaccines have expired.

It was then that Benitez said he told AstraZeneca representatives that he will try to do the best of his ability not to pay them.

The city government already made a partial payment of P65 million for the more than 260,000 doses utilized in the vaccination program against COVID-19 last year.