TRADE JUSTICE PILIPINAS
1 October 2021
PHILIPPINE SENATE JOINS GROWING CALLS FOR SUSPENSION OF PATENTS FOR COVID-19 VACCINES AND TREATMENT
The campaign to secure Philippine government support for the temporary suspension of patents on Covid 19 vaccines and treatment got a big boost Wednesday with the adoption in the Senate of a resolution urging the Executive Department to support the TRIPS Waiver proposal being negotiated in the World Trade Organization (WTO).
Senate Resolution 560 sponsored by Senator Risa Hontiveros, and shepherded through the Committee on Foreign Relations by its Chairperson Senator Aquilino Pimentel III, urges the Executive Department to support the TRIPS Waiver proposal.
The Resolution states: “It is incumbent upon the (Philippine) government, a developing country with huge economic challenges, and faced with the enormous and pressing challenge of an unprecedented global pandemic, to support this waiver.”
The TRIPS Waiver seeks to temporarily suspend provisions in the Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) Agreement relating to copyrights, industrial designs, patents, and protection of undisclosed information to ramp up the production of medical technologies, therapeutics, and vaccines globally so as to address the worsening pandemic.
Tabled initially by India and South Africa in October 2020, the proposal has since been co-sponsored by 63 developing countries (the Africa Group, the Least Developed Country Group, Bolivia, Fiji, Indonesia, Pakistan, Mongolia, Zimbabwe, Egypt, Vanuatu and Venezuela) and has received global support from most of the other developing countries and the international community. It is likewise supported by the WHO and the Vatican.
Trade Justice Pilipinas joined other organizations–WomanHealth, Medical Action Group, Ayos na Gamot sa Abot-Kayang Presyo (AGAP), Fair Trade Alliance, Focus on the Global South, SENTRO Labor Confederation, and Third World Network– advocating for greater access to affordable medicines and healthcare, and trade policies that support public health in joint submissions in February 2021 in support of the TRIPS Waiver.
We asserted that the Philippine government should support the waiver because the proposal aligns with the historical position of the Philippines on TRIPS flexibilities and that these flexibilities in turn are aligned with our national laws and the policy of the State on access to affordable medicines and promotion of public health. We also stressed in our submission the urgent need for developing countries like the Philippines to secure greater access to medical technologies, therapeutics, and vaccines to address the Covid-19 pandemic, and how the waiver proposal contributes to the efforts of ramping up vaccine supplies and ensuring that more countries would be able to have access to vaccines and treatment.
Further, the waiver proposal on specific IP provisions once passed gives the Philippines enough legal options to confront possible legal obstacles that may come her way during importation and manufacturing of COVID-19 medical technologies, therapeutics, and vaccines.
Several CSO groups like the UP Diliman Covid-19 Task Force, the Senior Citizen’s Sectoral Council of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC), as well as local governments like the Bacolod City Council have come out with resolutions and statements calling for the temporary suspension of patents for Covid 19 vaccines and treatment.The Senate Resolution now adds to the growing pressure on the Executive Department to finally take a stand to support the waiver.#
Joseph Purugganan: [email protected]
Atty. Tony Salvador: [email protected]