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Duterte to LGUs: Be 'more sane' in vaccination programs

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
Duterte to LGUs: Be 'more sane' in vaccination programs
Residents receive a dose of Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at FilOil Flying V Center in San Juan City on July 21, 2021.
The STAR / Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte urged local governments across the country to rethink the systems of their local vaccination programs as he pointed to reports of vaccination beneficiaries waiting in the rain and in the early morning hours. 

Speaking at Saturday night's meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr said the National Task Force Against COVID-19 acknowledged a shortage in monthly supplies across the country, which he said get used up rather quickly. 

"With the clamor of many LGUs, we've assessed that we need to increase our monthly deliveries...we saw that there is really a great uptick already, and many provincial governors are already prepared for vaccination," he said. 

But Duterte saw things differently and instead instructed Interior Secretary Eduardo Año to "enjoin" local government units to be "more circumspect," saying the national government did not cause the problem.  

"Actually, it looks like we didn't fall short with vaccines. The problem is for the local governments to come up with a more sane process of vaccination than allowing people to queue as early as 4 in the morning and getting their shots at 9," he said in mixed Filipino and English. 

"It seems to be to me not the way to vaccinate people. I saw that earlier this morning... people are exposed out in the open, unprotected from the elements waiting to get a chance to have this," he added. 

This came as he admitted that "there's a strong upsurge of [coronavirus cases] in places like Iloilo, Bacolod, Cagayan, Agusan [and] many local government units are desperately asking for additional bakuna."

READ: Metro Manila cities limit vaccination amid insufficient supply

Local chiefs urged: Take weather into account

To recall, Metro Manila mayors in early July were forced to begin limiting their inoculation programs' vaccine coverage or stopping them altogether, pointing to dwindling supplies given by the national government. 

But Duterte on Saturday night insisted the problem lay in the processes employed by city and provincial governments across the country and not with vaccine supply. 

"It's flooding now. They could have looked for another auditorium there or somewhere to do it...especially now that the southwest monsoon is passing the country," he said. 

"This is not the way to do it. They have to be more proactive than just setting a venue without the mechanism of how to transfer it...to me it's bullshit actually for you to do that to Filipinos," he added. 

Duterte, who has stressed "discipline" in his administration's pandemic response, once told local chiefs in earlier live-streamed addresses to just do what the national government says.

The country's chief executive urged mayors and governors to take into account the weather conditions when planning out their vaccination programs. 

"I would say that I would question the mayor and the barangay captain because it is the barangay captain who would act as the marshal," he added.

RELATED: Around 14,000 evacuate due to flooding brought by habagat rains

As it currently stands, local governments have already bore significant responsibility amid the coronavirus pandemic and the government's national vaccination program. 

When some cities' vaccine supplies ran out in the first week of July, the Palace simply asked for patience from its local chief executives. 

"The truth is that the vaccine is not enough ... We are not just running out of supply, it is the whole Philippines ... Unfortunately, we do not manufacture the vaccines," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Thursday, July 1. 

"We're asking for patience. That's just the reality of things." 

To date, health authorities have recorded 1.54 million coronavirus infections in the country, 54,401 of whom are still active cases. 

Per Our World in Data, the Philippines remains among the worst countries in the world when it comes to vaccines per population. 

COVID-19 VACCINES LOCAL GOVERNMENT UNITS RODRIGO DUTERTE
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