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Thursday, March 25, 2021

President Duterte orders DOH to probe people jumping the line in gov’t vaccination drive

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wants the vaccination of an actor in Paranaque City investigated, saying people jumping the line in the government mass immunization campaign may affect future vaccine donations.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte talks to the people after holding a meeting with the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) core members at the Malacañang Golf (Malago) Clubhouse in Malacañang Park, Manila on March 24, 2021. KING RODRIGUEZ/ PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

During a public address Wednesday, President Duterte ordered Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to investigate the incident in Paranaque City and submit a report to the Office of the Ombudsman.

“Kayo na ang bahala mag-imbestiga nito. Then kung matapos na ito, let the --- your legal office handle the… Or idiretso mo na lang sa --- make a report out of that incident and idiretso mo na lang sa Ombudsman. Mas mabuti, mas madali,” the President told Duque.

The President noted that local officials and influential people jumping the priority line have dismayed health workers who were supposed to be the first to get the jab.

He stressed that the government should strictly follow the priority list given by the World Health Organization (WHO) and failure to do so might endanger the supply of COVID-19 vaccines especially those donated by the WHO-led COVAX facility.

“But apparently this was not complied strictly. Eh ang mahirap nito ang nagbigay ang WHO, ‘yong COVAX, eh donated ‘yan. So tinanggap natin knowing fully well that we have to honor the conditions attached thereto,” he said.

“Sinabi na sa atin ng country representative ng WHO, if you do not follow the list of priority, you might lose the assistance of the WHO. It was made clear to us na ganoon ang pagkasabi.”

Duque said hospital heads and city health officers are responsible for controlling the vaccines and may be held accountable.

President Duterte named a number of local chief executives that were given show-cause orders by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) for getting the COVID-19 shot despite not being in the priority list.

The local officials were Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal, Bataraza, Palawan Mayor Abraham Ibba, and South Cotabato Mayors Dibu Tuan and Sulpicio Villalobos.

Minglanilla, Cebu Mayor Elanito Peña, Alicia Mayor Victoriano Torres, San Miguel Mayor Virgilio Mendez, and Lila Mayor Arturo Piollo II.

The President noted, however, that the excuse of those officials who argued that they get the shot to alleviate the fear of their constituents should be studied thoroughly.

“Medyo gray area ‘yan na dapat talaga ang una ‘yong mga… Whether or not if they jumped the COVID-19 line of vaccination would require a certain amount of a legal study,” he said.

The country’s 1.7 million frontline healthcare workers are on the top of WHO’s priority list, followed by senior citizens and persons with comorbidities, frontline personnel in essential sectors, uniformed personnel, and working sectors identified by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

Also on the list are indigent population, teachers, social workers, government workers and other essential workers, high-risk socio-demographic groups, and indigenous people.  PND