HOUSE SPEAKER Lord Allan Jay Q. Velasco said the proposed measure that will expedite the procurement of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines by local government units will be approved next week, with lawmakers rushing to pass the measure after President Rodrigo R. Duterte certified it as urgent.

“With President Rodrigo Roa Duterte certifying the measure as urgent, the House is expected to approve House Bill 8648 on second and third reading by Monday,” Mr. Velasco said in a statement on Friday.

House Bill 8648 or the proposed Emergency Vaccine Procurement Act of 2021 was filed earlier this month by Mr. Velasco. The bill was sponsored on the floor by Quirino Rep. Junie E. Cua and Albay Second District Rep. Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Mr. Duterte certified the indemnification fund bills of both houses of Congress as urgent. Section 6 of House Bill 8648 covers the indemnification fund that will cover any adverse reactions of people who will be vaccinated against the virus.

The measure will also allow LGUs to procure vaccines without having to undergo the bidding process under the Government Procurement Reform Act. The LGUs will need to collaborate with the Department of Health and the National Task Force against the COVID-19 in the procurement of vaccines.

The procurement, importation, storage, transport, distribution, and administration of the COVID-19 vaccines by the LGUs will be exempted from customs duties, value-added tax, excise tax, and other fees. — G.M. Cortez