DILG tells mayors vaccinated early to explain why they jumped priority list

DILG tells mayors vaccinated early to explain why they jumped priority list
Photo shows Minglanilla City Mayor Elanito Peña getting inoculated with a coronavirus vaccine.
Release / Minglanilla City Local Government

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of the Interior and Local Government issued show-cause orders to five mayors of cities across the country for them to explain why they took coronavirus vaccines while inoculation is focused on healthcare workers.

Under the government's national vaccination plan, healthcare frontliners are slated to receive the first jabs, followed by senior citizens and people with comorbidities. Only after both priority sectors can local chief executives receive vaccines. 

"Frontline healthcare workers go first in the A1 priority list. However, sometimes the healthcare worker doesn't show up so there needs to be a substitution plan. So we want to see if it is in line with the substitution plan when they get vaccinated," Interior Undersecretary Epimaco Densing was quoted as saying in Filipino by state-run PTV. 

"We will not judge them just yet because their explanations may be acceptable."

As of March 23, the five are: 

  1. Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez 
  2. T'boli (South Cotabato) Mayor Dibu Tuan 
  3. Sto. Niño (South Cotabato) Mayor Sulpicio Villalobos 
  4. Legazpi City Mayor Noel Rosal 
  5. Bataraza (Palawan) Mayor Abraham Ibba 

This comes after two local chief executives, Romualdez and Minglanilla City Mayor Elanito Peña, made headlines Tuesday for being vaccinated ahead of their slated spot in the priority list. 

Romualdez unapologetic

"We want to appeal to our countrymen, fellow officials, we have a prioritization framework in place. We have a specific response for covid and vaccination," Health Spokesperson Maria Vergeire said in a separate statement.

The Tacloban executive stood by his early-access vaccination, saying he did so to help boost vaccine confidence in his locality. 

Whether or not he did it for vaccine confidence is beside the point, as medical collectives earlier pointed out that bypassing priority mocks the government's own regulatory processes. 

"I'll face the consequences. Alam niyo sa totoo lang, unang-una, i did not hide it. I made it public. I made it public so people will be convinced to avail," Romualdez said in a statement. 

"If I did not do that just to follow a certain provision or guideline, my own city health officers and frontliners, only 50% of them will avail."

— Franco Luna with a report from James Relativo 

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