Acting on the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) today ordered the Philippine National Police (PNP) to secure all arriving vaccines in the country and work closely with local government units (LGUs) in making sure that it reaches the rightful recipients especially in far-flung areas of the country.
DILG Officer-in-Charge (OIC) and Undersecretary Bernardo C. Florece, Jr. said these vaccines are as precious as gold and should be secured and escorted by the PNP to their intended destinations. “Ang mga bakuna na 'yan ay parang ginto lalo na ngayong kulang pa ang supply kaya pinaghahanda natin ang PNP sa anumang insidente.”
“More than a historical milestone, the national vaccination program aims to save lives and will put an end to this pandemic. We direct the PNP to be in close coordination with the LGUs so that these vaccines are secured and protected,” he said.
“Pagdating sa airport hanggang sa maiturok ang mga ito, kasama na ang ating kapulisan,” he added.
On Monday, February 15, the national government targets to commence COVID-19 vaccinations of frontline healthcare workers with the initial batch of 117,000 doses of vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech. The National Task Force COVID-19 aims to inoculate first the healthcare sector's 1.4 million individuals.
Florece said that as a member of the Task Group Supply Chain and Logistics, the PNP is expected to be a constant presence in accordance with the national government’s vaccination plan, primarily to secure and protect the COVID-19 vaccines and the team that will be administering them.
He also said that according to the Philippine National Deployment and Vaccination Plan, local officials such as barangay captains and barangay safety officers such as barangay tanods are also called, together with the PNP, to aid in the vaccination.
“Tulad nang lagi nating paalala, we need all the help that we can get sa pandemyang ito lalo na sa nalalapit na pagbabakuna sa ating bansa kaya ang ating PNP, kasama ang mga pinuno ng barangay at mga tanod, ay inaasahan nating makikipagtulungan at makikiisa,” Florece explained.
Meanwhile, DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan Malaya slammed the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) for laying conditions on the President’s request for them not to hamper the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines to all parts of the country.
In a statement, the CPP said that they will provide a humanitarian corridor but the government should not use military vehicles in transporting the vaccines to far flung barangays. The CPP also demanded that the vehicles transporting the vaccines must be clearly marked with a red cross over a white back ground to avoid being mistaken as a military vehicle.
Malaya said that during this time of pandemic, the Communist rebels must place the country first before their selfish ideological interests and should not impose any conditions for the benefit of the people.
“Can’t the CPP/NPA/NDF declare a cessation of hostilities for a change if only to allow the delivery of the vaccines? In all countries of the world, the military are mobilized to assist in the vaccination program. In the US, the National Guard has been mobilized to ensure the fast delivery of their vaccines,” he said.
Malaya, who is Co-Chair of NTF COVID-19 Task Group Prevention, said that by laying demands on the government, the CPP/NPA/NDF are actually threatening the delivery of the vaccines in conflict-affected areas.
“What happens when we utilize a military vehicle to transport the vaccine in mountainous areas, are they going to shoot our soldiers on a humanitarian mission? 6 x 6 military trucks are the only vehicles that can reach these areas. What happens when civilian vehicles do not have a red cross over a white background?” he said.
Malaya said that the PNP will still be on high alert considering the conditions imposed by the Communist terrorists.“Alerto lang ang pamahalaan dahil mahirap maging kampante at pagkatiwalaan ang mga kaaway ng bayan," he said.
He appealed to the Communist rebels to think of the country for a change and support the national vaccination program if only to put a stop to this pandemic.