DOT distances itself from Razon's ICTSI in mega vaccination site issue

Published May 10, 2021, 5:21 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The Department of Tourism (DOT) clarified on Monday, May 10 that it has not entered into an agreement with private firm International Container Terminal Service (ICTSI) in line with the construction of a mega vaccination facility on a portion of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation’s (NPF) property in Parañaque City.

A health worker administers a COVID-19 jab on a person at a vaccination center in Makati City on May 6, 2021.(Ali Vicoy/ Manila Bulletin)

“[There is] no agreement between DOT and ICTSI. The misimpression may have arisen because DOT was one of the first agencies approached for the site, as the mother agency of NPF,” the department said in a statement.

Business tycoon Enrique Razon Jr. is the man behind ICTSI.

The DOT said it previously raised the proposed vaccination center before the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases, as requested by the NPF. The project was endorsed by the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19.

The construction of the proposed vaccination center hasn’t started yet because the NPF Board of Trustees has yet to sign the memorandum of agreement (MOA), citing environmental, health, and legal issues.

In a separate statement last week, the NPF questioned the propriety of allowing a private institution–ICTSI–to operate and manage the government property “contrary to Presidential Decree No. 1445.”

The DOT explained that it is only facilitating the use of the property of the NPF, which is one of its attached agencies. It added that it will have no involvement in the operations and management of the site.

The agency also said that the MOA will be between the NPF and the Department of Health (DOH), which is ”obligated to maintain the property in good condition and oversee all operations.”

Vaccine czar and IATF head, Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. has called on the NPF “to sign the MOA as soon as possible” in efforts to build up the country’s vaccination capability. Once finished, the facility will be able to inoculate at least 10,000 individuals daily from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“We can no longer afford to waste time. Time lost is opportunity lost, and worst of all, lives lost. The lives — and future — of our countrymen depends on how fast we act on it,” Galvez said.

The DOT is part of the IATF.