Palace to ask DILG to probe vaccination of Tacloban mayor

Published March 23, 2021, 3:56 PM

by Raymund Antonio

Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez is not a frontline medical worker nor a senior citizen, but he got inoculated with the coronavirus vaccine made by Chinese firm Sinovac at his home in San Jose District in Tacloban City, Leyte. 

(Photo from Alfred Romualdez)

In an online media briefing, Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Palace will refer Romualdez’s case to the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for investigation. 

“Of course, we regret this incident but I will refer the matter to the DILG for proper action dahil kinakailangan po talagang imbestigahan ito (because we really need to investigate this).”

The Palace official emphasized that the government’s priority list in its vaccination program has not changed. 

“Dapat medical frontliners pa lang po sa ngayon. So again po, uulitin natin na hindi po pu-pwede magpabakuna muna ang hindi mga medical frontliners dahil kung susuway po tayo dito sa order of priority na ito, maaapektuhan po yung ating future deliveries po sa COVAX facility (It should be only medical frontliners now. So again, let us repeat that non-medical frontliners cannot get vaccinated because if we don’t follow the order of priority, that will affect our future deliveries from the COVAX facility),” he said. 

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) COVAX facility was built to provide safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines to lower-income countries like the Philippines. Western countries donate to the COVAX facility, which will then distribute it to less-developed nations.

It had previously said that deliverables of donated vaccines will get affected by not following the priority list it provided. The order of priority list is as follows: health care workers, seniors, people with co-morbidities, and uniformed personnel.

The Philippines so far only has more than 1.1 million doses of Sinovac and AstraZeneca to inoculate its 1.8 million health workers although more vaccines are due to arrive this week. 

Romualdez defended his actions, saying that he simply wants to encourage city residents to take part in the vaccination program by showing that he is willing to be injected with the vaccine. 

He is the first local chief to receive the vaccine. Romualdez, who is the cousin of former Senator Ferdinand Marcos Jr., also tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in December.