Galvez: Mindanao will not be neglected in COVID-19 vaccine drive
Officials of the Datu Blah Sinsuat District Hospital in Upi, Maguindanao receive COVID-19 vaccines in this undated photo.
The STAR/John Unson

Galvez: Mindanao will not be neglected in COVID-19 vaccine drive

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - June 16, 2021 - 9:45am

MANILA, Philippines — Mindanao will receive more COVID-19 vaccines once additional supplies of the scarce shots arrive this month, the country’s vaccine czar said, as the country’s second largest island continued to see surges in infections.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez issued the statement days after lawmakers from Mindanao accused the national government of neglecting southern Philippines in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

“The National Task Force against COVID-19 would like to assure our honorable members of the Congress that we will not neglect the regions, especially those in Mindanao, in our vaccine deployment,” Galvez said in a statement Wednesday.

“Following President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive to deploy more vaccines to the regions, we will immediately send more vaccines to Mindanao as soon as the rest of the deliveries arrive this month,” he added.

So far, over 4.3 million vaccine doses have arrived in the country in June, with around six million more jabs expected to be delivered this month.

Since the vaccination drive began in March, only 1.7 million doses have been shipped to Mindanao. The country has received more than 12.7 million jabs since February.

Galvez explained the bulk of vaccine shipments only started to arrive in May and the deployment was based on the government’s risk assessment as well as prioritization categories.

During a House committee hearing on Monday, Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez (Cagayan de Oro) criticized government officials for the lack of COVID-19 vaccines in his locality and their failure to prioritize areas outside the capital region that are grappling with rising cases.

Rep. Mohamad Khalid Dimaporo (Lanao del Norte), chair of the House Committee on Mindanao Affairs, said he and other lawmakers from Mindanao are concerned about vaccine allocations to the region too.

Rappler quotes Reps. Henry Oaminal (Misamis Occidental) and Sergio Dagooc (Association of Philippine Electric Cooperatives party-list) pointing out at the hearing that it was unclear how many vaccine doses would be allocated for Mindanao.

Dagooc, who is from Surigao del Norte, said he felt that "Mindanaoans are still being treated like second-class citizens."

Galvez was represented at the hearing by Undersecretary Isidro Purisima, who vowed Mindanao will receive additional vaccine doses.

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