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ROUGH CUTS | Caveat Venditor does not work here




YESTERDAY, we tackled in this space the one-sidedness of the purchase conditions imposed by the manufacturers of the vaccines against the coronavirus disease to countries or governments buying them.

The vaccines are the biggest hope to stop the most deadly health pandemic since the black plague in the 13th century.

We expounded strongly on the World Health Organization (WHO) sanctioned provision on the purchase arrangement that requires government-buyers to indemnify those vaccinated with their vaccines who develop negative side effects.

In fact, based on reports the primary reason why the Philippines’ first vaccine delivery schedule was not met because somehow we hesitated to agree on such a disadvantageous requirement.

But knowing that in the present situation of the pandemic we are not in a position to bargain, our government just has to grit its teeth and swallow the so-called sour pill of a requirement.

And add to it the demand of some vaccine manufacturers that they would only sell their products to the buyer country if they could pay an advance payment of not less than 20 percent of the total cost.

Again, the Philippine government has to reckon with statutory restrictions because under our laws advance payments allowable is a maximum of 15 percent. Meaning, there are niceties for legal remedies to secure an exemption to the long-established procurement policies.

We believe that all these are already taken care of and the necessary documents on the matter have been submitted to the manufacturers through the WHO.

Indeed this is one move of the seller-manufacturers of the vaccines that was thought of by the shrewd marketing executives of the vaccine makers.

Yes, considering that most of the hardly-hit by the pandemic are poor nations who do not have their own vaccine manufacturing companies or the people who have the expertise to develop such product, it is now clear that the same countries cannot even invoke the so-called adage of caveat venditor (seller beware) opposite caveat emptor.

In the former adage, the Philippines could have run for protection against any damage that a product like a vaccine can bring on those who are administered of the same.

The same marketing philosophy could have been invoked by the Philippines in demanding that it is the buyer who should be indemnified by the seller of whatever damage the product would bring to the buyer or the ultimate recipient of the product; in this particular case, the vaccine.

This is supposed to be the ultimate objective of the worldwide movement of consumer activism – the right of consumers to run after the seller of products that lead them to more perditions than an advantage.

But this is not so in the case of vaccines nowadays. The situation now puts almost all economically-impaired governments in a no-win position. They have limited resources to buy the vaccines and they have no hope of producing their own.

So, like the rest of the similarly-situated countries, the Philippines is helpless in just even thinking of questioning the fairness of the sales condition. So, we have to remain under the ambit of the adage caveat emptor.

We have to be aware of the shrewd demands of the vaccine manufacturers. But we still end up unable to do anything about it because we are extremely badly in need of the vaccines at the earliest possible time. That is why we have to “bite the bullet” – rather grudgingly.


Less than half a month shortly before the celebration of Fire Prevention Month in March, already there have been a number of fire incidents in Davao City. And sadly these fires did not just raze the grounds houses and buildings these also lead to the deaths of several individuals.

In Davao City, four youths were burned to death in a fire that hit residences in La Verna Hills Subdivision early this week. Per investigation conducted by Fire probers, it was learned that the four youngsters were left by themselves by the house owners who were in Mati City, Davao Oriental on the day of the incident.

According to fire investigators, the cause of the fire was the usual culprit – faulty electrical wiring. And by faulty electrical connections, we are made to understand that it includes the quality of materials being used and the workmanship of the electrician that installed it on the building or house.

These again lead us to the question of how come the house or building owners are given the corresponding electrical permit by the city’s Office of the City Building Official (OCBO). Easily if inspections were actually made before the electrical permit is issued, the faulty wiring connections and the low quality of the wires used could have easily been detected. The process would have definitely precluded the occurrence of fires in the future.

Well, if this has already been the status quo for the longest time in the local government, then we submit that it would be hardest to change. Doing or even just attempting to fight the bureaucracy and put in place a facilitative but legal one entails a serious overhauling. So, we cannot hope that this can be done in our lifetime.

Thus, if the fires that hit the city in the first two months of the year have taken tolls in terms of lives lost, then these could be forebodings of what are likely to come during the so-called Fire Prevention Month come March. But we must not hope that they are. God forbids.

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