Poor Filipinos, the members of the police and the military should also be prioritized in the ongoing government mass immunization drive against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has said.
In a public address aired on Tuesday, the President reminded National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. that police officers, as well as soldiers, should be put on the priority list, adding vaccines should be immediately administered to people to avoid wastage.
“Sundalo pati pulis, lahat. Pati itong — kung madala ‘yang pamilya nila, okay na, tutal nandiyan na ‘yong mga bakuna,” he said.
“Kaya as many as we can, kung maaari lang day and night para we will not have a stock of spoiled medication. Dito nga sabi ko unahin ko na ‘yong — pauna ko ‘yong mga pulis pati military because sila ‘yong asahan ko.”
The President underscored the importance of the role of the members of the police and the military in keeping peace and order, and protecting the country.
“They group together, so they must have the vaccine. So sabi mo ngayon na give them the priority. Pati ‘yong pamilya nila okay na rin… As long as there are the vaccines, we will give it to everybody.”
People in poor communities should also be prioritized because of their vulnerabilities of contracting the virus, given the cramped condition in informal settler areas, the President said.
“Ito namang mga squatters ang bahay nila dikit-dikit, so the transmission is really as fast as the virus can travel,” the President said. “At saka, they — alam mo na, they tend to forget the protocols.”
He argued that wealthy families living in “well-off” subdivisions are less exposed to COVID-19 because they have more living space and can easily isolate. He made an assurance, however, that they will be vaccinated in due time.
The reason why indigent families must be on the top list, President Duterte said, is because of the emergence of more infectious COVID-19 strains, which were already detected in the country.
The India variant, believed to be another contagious strain, appeared in the genome sequencing done by experts tracking dominant COVID-19 variants.
The government reported that the new variant was detected from Filipino workers returning to the Philippines.
Prioritizing the poor will give the government elbow room to shield them from the virus considering their financial inadequacies, according to the President.
He also underscored that it is the government’s “sacred duty” to look after the poor Filipinos first, especially since they are always at the mercy of their poverty particularly in terms of medical care. PND