THE PRESIDENTIAL palace on Tuesday said the Philippines would not assume liability for all coronavirus vaccines bought by the private sector.

This after President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Monday night said it was illegal for the government to compensate those who would suffer from adverse effects from vaccines.

“It’s not possible for the private sector not to be liable because the Constitution provides for exemptions including willful neglect and gross negligence,” presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. told a televised news briefing in Filipino.

Mr. Duterte earlier signed a measure creating a P500-million indemnification fund for patients who would get sick from coronavirus vaccines.

He said drug makers want the government to assume liability for any vaccines bought by the private sector. “That can’t be allowed.”

The President asked vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. to explain allegations that the National Government had been blocking efforts of the private sector to directly buy vaccines from drug makers.

Mr. Roque earlier said private companies may buy coronavirus vaccines through a tripartite agreement with the government.

Meanwhile, China’s donation of 400,000 more vials of CoronaVac made by Sinovac Biotech Ltd. would arrive on Mar. 24, Mr. Galvez told the same briefing.

He said the government could still meet its goal of vaccinating 70% of the population. A steady supply of coronavirus vaccines would arrive in April, he said.

Mr. Roque said Mr. Duterte would witness the turnover of about a million doses of CoronaVac doses that the government bought. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza