PH gov’t urged to include farmers, fishers in COVID-19 vaccine plan

Robie de Guzman   •   December 22, 2020   •   324

MANILA, Philippines – Senator Francis Pangilinan has called on the Duterte administration to include farmers and fisherfolks in the list of groups to be prioritized in the government’s COVID-19 vaccination plan.

In a statement issued on Monday, Pangilinan pointed out that farmers and fisherfolks are “frontliners too and should be prioritized in the government’s game plan to control COVID, including its plan to vaccinate essential workers.”

“Sila ang nagpapakain sa atin. Hindi ba dapat prayoridad sa vaccination plan ang ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda?” Pangilinan said.

“Biktima na ng pandemya ang kanilang kabuhayan, at pinalala pa ng mga nagdaang bagyo. Pero araw-araw pa rin silang nagbubungkal ng lupa para hindi tayo magutom. Kaya isa yan sa mga tanong na ihahain natin sa Committee of the Whole,” he added.

The Senate adopted on December 14 Pangilinan’s Senate Resolution 594 seeking to convene the Senate Committee of the Whole to look into the government’s vaccination program.

In filing the resolution, the senator emphasized that majority of the farmers and fishers are among the poorest sectors.

“Hindi nila kakayaning makabili ng vaccines kung walang suporta ng pamahalaan. Karamihan din sa kanila ay walang ID, walang access sa mga ospital. Ano ang plano? Paano sisiguruhing maabot sila ng vaccine sa lalong madaling panahon?” he added.

Pangilinan cited the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) report showing losses in agriculture due to typhoons Quinta and Ulysses, and super typhoon Rolly pegged at P12.3 billion.

In Cagayan Valley alone, agriculture damages were at P2.2 billion.

“Konti lamang ang itinaas ng budget ng DA para sa 2021. Maraming kailangang bigyan ng pansin kagaya ng pagpapaigting ng crop protection at insurance schemes upang may sasalo sa pinsalang dulot ng mga sakuna at pandemya. Dapat ipasok din sa usapan na kailangan ng vaccines ng ating mga magsasaka at mangingisda,” Pangilinan said.

The Senate Committee of the Whole is expected to convene in January 2021 before Senate resumes session.

IATF urged to prioritize urban areas with high COVID-19 cases in vaccine rollout

Robie de Guzman   •   May 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – House Speaker Lord Allan Velasco on Monday called on the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) to prioritize the NCR Plus and other urban areas with high cases of novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the government’s vaccination rollout.

In a statement, Velasco said these areas should be prioritized after all medical frontliners in the country are fully inoculated against COVID-19.

“As we await large supplies of vaccines to come in, we urge the IATF to prioritize NCR Plus and other urban centers in our vaccine rollout so we can quell the surge in new infections in those areas,” Velasco pointed out.

“But first and foremost, let us vaccinate all 1.7 million health care workers all over the country to make sure they are protected against COVID-19,” he added.

The NCR Plus is composed of the National Capital Region (NCR), and nearby provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal, and Laguna.

Aside from the NCR Plus, Velasco said the national government should also give priority vaccine allocation to Mega Cebu, Davao, Cagayan de Oro, and other regional centers across the country.

Echoing health experts, Velasco said the best defense against the “superspreader variants” would be to inundate these areas with vaccines.

“Our efforts should be strategic as we wait for the time until our vaccine supplies become stable,” Velasco said.

The Philippine government earlier reported that a total of 246,986 individuals have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. A total of 1,809,801 doses have been administered in 3,415 vaccination sites in 17 regions.

DOH’s Duque gets vaccinated vs COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III received his first dose of a vaccine against novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Friday.

Duque was inoculated around 10 a.m. with CoronaVac dose made by Chinese firm Sinovac Biotech. Health Undersecretary Geraldo Bayugo administered the vaccine.

Duque, 64, is a senior citizen that belongs to A2 category of the government’s COVID-19 priority list.

“As I receive my dose of the COVID-19 vaccine today, I invite everyone to do the same, and choose to be protected,” Duque was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the DOH.

“Let us all take part in protecting public health, and let us be in unison in spreading one message: that vaccines are safe, and vaccines are effective,” he added.

Duque also stressed that the government is doing everything it can to secure sufficient vaccine supply to cover 70 million Filipinos.

The DOH chief’s vaccination follows the recommendation of the Food and Drug Administration to use CoronaVac on senior citizens amid a shortage of AstraZeneca vaccine supply, which is used to inoculate the elderly.

IBP welcomes IATF move to include lawyers in COVID-19 vaccination priority list

Robie de Guzman   •   April 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) on Friday welcomed the decision of the government’s task force for COVID-19 response to include lawyers in the groups to be prioritized in the COVID-19 vaccination program.

Malacañang earlier announced that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-MEID) has listed lawyers under the A4 category which includes frontline workers in law/justice, security, and social protection sectors.

The Palace said that the A4 priority list includes the following:

  • Workers in commuter transport (land, air, and sea), including logistics
  • Public and private wet and dry market vendors
  • Frontline workers in groceries, supermarkets, delivery services
  • Workers in manufacturing for food, beverage, medical and pharmaceutical products
  • Frontline workers in food retail, including food service delivery
  • Frontline workers in private and government financial services
  • Frontline workers in hotels and accommodation establishments
  • Priests, rabbis, imams, and other religious leaders
  • Security guards/ personnel assigned in offices, agencies, and organizations identified in the list of priority industries/sectors
  • Frontline workers in private and government news media
  • Customer-facing personnel of telecoms, cable and internet service providers, electricity distribution and water distribution utilities
  • Frontline personnel in basic education and higher education institutions and agencies
  • Overseas Filipino workers, including those scheduled for deployment within two months
  • Frontline workers in law/justice, security, and social protection sectors
  • Frontline government workers engaged in the operations of government transport system, quarantine inspection;
  • Worker safety inspection and other COVID-19 response activities
  • Frontline government workers in charge of tax collection, assessment of businesses for incentives, election, national ID, data collection personnel
  • Diplomatic community and Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) personnel in consular operations
  • Department of Public Works and Highways personnel in charge of monitoring government infrastructure projects

“We are thankful that the request for inclusion of lawyers as A4 in vaccine prioritization was favorably acted upon,” IBP president Domingo Egon Cayosa said in a statement.

“Litigation lawyers, prosecutors, PAO lawyers, and lawyers who are frontliners in the justice/law sector who are at risk of COVID-19 infection should be similarly protected as the magistrates and court employees,” he added.

Cayosa assured that the IBP will “fully cooperate to ensure fair and efficient allocation of vaccines.”

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