Robredo open to establishing 'vaccine express' in other Metro Manila cities

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Robredo open to establishing 'vaccine express' in other Metro Manila cities
Photo shows the Day 1 Launch of the Office of the Vice President's Vaccine Express project in cooperation with the Manila City local government.
Release / Office of the Vice President

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo has received requests from other Metro Manila city governments to set up vaccine express sites in their localities, she disclosed Tuesday afternoon. 

Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the launch of the Vaccine Express site in Manila City, Robredo said that she was open to partnering so long as supplies were provided. 

The project, which aims to make vaccination accessible for economic frontliners who belong to the A4 priority group, inoculate tricycle, pedicab, and delivery riders for its initial run on Tuesday. 

"For us, we're open to whichever local government unit is willing to partner with us," the vice president said in Filipino. "Actually, many are already requesting, but our problem is really supplies." 

Vaccine supplies at the site were shouldered by the Manila City local government, she said, while her office handled the staff and the buses. She did not disclose which local chief executives reached out to her office. 

"Our biggest problem is that in our office, we didn't have access to supply. So for us, we are really dependent on which LGUs are willing to partner with us. So when we offered it, the City of Manila immediately said, 'yes, we want it,'" she said. 

This comes after all Metro Manila mayors convened for an emergency meeting on Sunday to discuss the detected cases of the Delta variant of the coronavirus. 

Though the Metro Manila Council agreed that no policy changes were necessary for the time being, they also decided that aggressive testing and contact tracing, along with vaccination, should remain top priority. 

Speaking on her weekly radio show aired over AM radio dzXL, the country's No. 2 underscored the need to be creative in finding ways to encourage Filipinos to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

"There are many well-performing LGUs as far as vaccination is concerned. So that's really what we need, the secret is to really look for creative means to tackle vaccination," she said Sunday. 

The project sees a 180-degree turn from the chief executive's approach to vaccination. 

Duterte threatens arrest of the vaccine-hesitant 

Despite prevalent vaccine hesitancy in the country, President Rodrigo Duterte in one of his signature rants Monday night went as far as threatening to put anyone refusing to be vaccinated behind bars. 

“Kung ayaw mo magpabakuna, ipaaresto kita. At ang bakuna ay galing—itusok ko sa puwet mo. (If you don’t want to be vaccinated, I will have you arrested. The vaccine is from—I will have you injected on your butt),” he said.

“But if you don’t want to, I will have you arrested. That is in pursuance of a policy of our crisis of this health issue,” Duterte added.

There is currently no law that allows this but government officials have frequently shown that they will rush to implement policies that the president mentions in his speeches.

READ: Duterte gives fresh arrest order for those who refuse COVID-19 vaccines

Robredo for her part said she was hopeful that similar projects could eventually speed up the progress of attaining herd immunity in the country. 

"Any time the supply is available, we are available. It's up to us to convince — to convince our countrymen to get vaccinated," she said in Filipino. 

"So for me, when there is an opportunity, let's grab that opportunity because that's the only way we can alleviate our suffering. The sooner everyone is vaccinated, the sooner our economy will open up."






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