Mayors vaccinated too soon could face suspension, removal â DILG
Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, who is not on the priority list, receives COVID-19 vaccine.
Facebook/Alfred Romualdez

Mayors vaccinated too soon could face suspension, removal — DILG

(Philstar.com) - March 25, 2021 - 3:32pm

MANILA, Philippines — Mayors who skipped the line for COVID-19 vaccination could be suspended or removed from office, a DILG official said Thursday.

Pressure is mounting on government to sanction non-medical workers who received the jab despite not being on the priority list, as the country could stand to lose its share in the COVAX facility over the incidents, per a warning by the World Health Organization. 

In a Laging Handa briefing, DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said Parañaque Mayor Edwin Olivarez will be the latest to be issued a show-cause order. This will be to explain why actor Mark Anthony Fernandez, a resident of his city, was vaccinated when he is not part of the priority list. 

"We will send — hopefully, by this afternoon — the show-cause order for Mayor Olivarez," he said in Filipino. "It is his command responsibility to ensure that our vaccination plan is being followed in his local government."

Before the Parañaque mayor, five other local chief executives had been told to explain too after they made the headlines this week for being vaccinated. 

President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday night ordered them investigated. Early this year, he shunned a congressional probe into the unauthorized vaccination of members of the Presidential Security Group, the first to be inoculated in the country against COVID-19. The jabs, smuggled into the Philippines, were administered in September 2020.

Health workers, around 1.7 million of them, are supposed to be the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccines in the country. The Philippines has received 1,525,600 doses so far and vaccines have been distributed across the country.

Speaking to ANC, Olivarez sought to explain that Fernandez was on the "substitution list" of people who could be vaccinated if medical personnel the doses were supposed to be for refused inoculation or did not show up.

"We do understand, but the vaccine will only be put to waste because the frontliner did not arrive," the mayor said, adding that the actor had hypertension and depression.

Olivarez added too that it was not only Fernandez who was vaccinated as a substitute on that day. The actor was vaccinated along with senior citizens and others with comorbidities.

Mayors who received show-cause orders will be given three working days to respond, according to Densing. Apart from the initial five and Olivarez, he said the DILG is also looking into two more mayors who may have jumped the line as well.

"If their explanation is not acceptable or if they do not tell the truth in their response, we will file an administrative case before the Ombudsman who will see what consequence will be done," he said. "It can be as low as 30 days suspension to as high as being kicked out of office." — Christian Deiparine

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