THE SUPREME Court (SC) has rejected the lawsuit of a former Marinduque mayor seeking to stop the government’s purchase and use of CoronaVac from China.

In a May 11 order published on July 9, the tribunal said it “cannot step in to add another layer of requirement before the procurement of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) vaccines and their use, specifically those granted with emergency use authorization.”

Former Boac, Marinduque Mayor Pedrito M. Nepomuceno earlier asked the court to stop the purchase and use of the coronavirus vaccines made by China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd. Health authorities should require the drugmaker to first conduct local clinical trials, he said.

But the high court said the law empowers President Rodrigo R. Duterte to enforce the state’s anti-coronavirus response.

“In the case of Sinovac vaccine, while many doubt its efficacy, it is not within the office of this court to issue an order compelling the government to conduct further tests before the same can be distributed to the Filipino people,” it said in an order written by Justice Jhosep Y. Lopez.

“As the judicial branch of the government tasked to interpret laws, settle actual controversies, and keep every government office within the scope of their authority, it is not within the office of the court to go beyond what the law requires, including the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines,” it added. 

The tribunal further noted that Sinovac had been given emergency use authority for its vaccine in February. Under the law, registered vaccines with such approval could be bought, it said.

“No valid ground exists to require the conduct of further clinical trials and public bidding.” — Bianca Angelica D. Añago