Amid the recent surge of COVID-19 infections in the country, Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has criticized the Duterte administration not only for the slow pace of vaccine rollout but also for its alleged plan to prohibit several companies from procuring vaccines for their employees.
De Lima, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Social Justice, Welfare and Rural Development, said preventing select companies from having access to vaccines is illegal as it is deplorable.
“Where are the vaccines? Why prevent the private sector to import vaccines, who can do better and faster, to provide for the needs of their own workforce and even donate for a portion of the over-all requirements, at least for the priority sectors? Walang masama kung gusto nilang protektahan ang kanilang mga empleyado at pamilya, lalo pa’t walang sinasanto ang COVID-19,” she said.
“Our government’s goal should be to protect the lives of as many Filipinos as possible and not to discriminate against the private sector. With the slow pace of its vaccination program, the government, at the very least, should be thankful that the private sector is doing their part in preventing employees from getting infected,” she added.
In a leaked draft administrative order, it was said that the National Task Force against COVID-19, together with the Department of Health (DOH), “shall review the requests of private entities to procure vaccines to ensure that private entities who will be part of the agreement are not in any way related to the tobacco industry, products covered under EO 51 series of 1986 or the ‘National Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes, Breastmilk Supplement and Other Related Products’ or other industries in conflict with public health.”
After the said proposal received nationwide backlash, the DOH reasoned that it was still finalizing the draft, which would contain some sections of the draft Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of Republic Act No. 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Law.
The government reportedly aims to vaccinate 50 to 70 million Filipinos or a third of its population to achieve herd immunity this year but Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega admitted that the country has so far inoculated only “below 50 percent” of its health workers nationwide.
De Lima, a staunch social justice and human rights champion, likewise slammed the Duterte regime for its “lack of urgency” in vaccinating the millions of Filipinos.
“The people from the positions of powers, including influential government officials, can afford to have regular tests conducted and will be immediately attended to, at government’s expense, in case they tested positive for COVID-19. How about the ordinary Juan and Juana?” she asked.
“The lack of urgency of this administration in terms of inoculating the public is unacceptable. Mahigit isang taon na, pataas pa rin nang pataas ang kaso ng COVID-19 sa bansa, at hanggang ngayon, wala pa ring kasiguraduhan kung kailan makatatanggap ng bakuna ang marami nating kababayan,” added the lady Senator from Bicol.
The Philippines has reportedly reached a new all-time high in its single-day increase of COVID-19 cases at 8,019, as the nationwide total case count now stands at 671,792, on March 22. (30)