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QC ends deal with eZConsult provider after another system crash

Franco Luna - Philstar.com
QC ends deal with eZConsult provider after another system crash
Residents of Quezon City line up for Pfizer vaccine during the inoculation for A1, A2, A3 and A5 categories at Kia Theatre in Cubao on June 23, 2021.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City government has decided to terminate its contract with Zuellig Pharma Corporation's booking services, EzConsult, following a series of technical difficulties.

"We have already given Zuellig ample time to improve their system upon their request and yet their system has crashed again for the 9th time. We don't want to cause undue stress to our constituents who only want to register for vaccination," Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said in a statement late Tuesday night.

The mayor disclosed that the company initially reported an "upgrade" that allowed its system to accommodate up to 50,000 users at a time. However, their system crashed again when the city opened new vaccination slots.

"Instead of making it easier, our registration process was only slowed down further. What is saddening is that it was the people who suffered, and the efforts of our medical frontliners and volunteers who have been sacrificing for months to speed up our vaccination process have been in vain," Belmonte said in Filipino.

To recall, the city government had already threatened to scrap its contract with the developer earlier after technical woes as it issued an ultimatum for the corporation to improve its services and deliverables. 

But the technical difficulties experienced by Quezon City residents on Tuesday night were "the last straw," the city said.  

Since late March, EzConsult has reported several technical difficulties that caused the city government delays in its vaccination program.

According to City Attorney Orlando Casimiro, Zuellig has breached its contractual obligations to the city after failing to deliver on its commitment to improving its service as previously agreed.

"The Information Technology portion of the Service Agreement with the city government will be terminated and damages will be claimed against Zuellig because of the delays, inconvenience and frustration that our QCitizens have experienced," he said.

Civil, criminal charges mulled

Under its agreement with the LGU, Zuellig is liable to pay liquidated damages amounting to a "tenth of one percent of the contract price for every day of delay until the project is completed."

The city government is also considering filing civil and criminal charges against the company for failure to meet its contractual obligation to the local government.

"We are filing appropriate charges against them through our Legal Department," Belmonte said.

The mayor also called on the residents who are having a hard time registering on the EzConsult website to instead register at the city government-assisted QC Vax Easy portal.

"Those who were able to book a slot for July 1, 2, 3, 5, and 6 are advised to proceed to the vaccination site of their choice as scheduled," the city's statement read, stressing that until the contract termination has been finalized, all ongoing bookings are valid.

Those scheduled for the second dose should also follow the date indicated in their card, and take the jab at the same site where they had their first dose. 

To date, 1.41 million coronavirus infections have been recorded in the Philippines, 50,037 of whom are still classified as active cases. 

Per data from the QC Epidemiology and Disease Surveillance Unit, 1,442 active cases remain out of the total 101,776 infections documented in the city. 

Disclosure: Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte is a shareholder of Philstar Global Corp., which operates digital news outlet Philstar.com. This article was produced following editorial guidelines.

COVID-19 COVID-19 VACCINATION QUEZON CITY LOCAL GOVERNMENT
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