Use of Nayong Pilipino property as mega vaccination site lawful; DOT explains why

Published May 10, 2021, 5:07 PM

by Alexandria Dennise San Juan

The Department of Tourism (DOT) guaranteed that the mega vaccination center that would be built on a portion of the Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF) property in Parañaque City would be for a “public purpose”.

In a statement on Monday, May 10, the DOT stressed that the proposed mega vaccination center would help accelerate the implementation of the National Vaccination Program with its envisioned capacity to accommodate 10,000 individuals daily.

“The law provides that ‘government funds or property shall be spent or used solely for public purposes.’ The vaccination of thousands of Filipinos is definitely for a public purpose,” the agency emphasized.

“The land will not be used for any income generating purpose, it will be time bound and temporary only,” the DOT explained.

The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Diseases approved the DOT-endorsed initiative in April, but site works have yet to start since the NPF Board hasn’t signed the memorandum of agreement with the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19. The board has cited environmental, health, and legal concerns for its reluctance.

In a separate statement last week, the board questioned the propriety of allowing a private institution–the International Container Terminal Service (ICTSI) Foundation–to operate and manage the government property, “contrary to Presidential Decree No. 1445.”

The foundation is part of billionaire businessman Enrique Razon Jr.’s group of companies.

It also said that the abrupt cutting of nearly 500 trees, along with other site works on the NPF property, will “kill the existing ecosystem” that will affect Metro Manila residents.

However, the DOT said that the area where the facility will be constructed on is currently an “empty lot”. There is even a temporary isolation facility built there.

“It has been identified as suitable for a drive-through vaccination site in terms of its size and accessibility. It will also occupy only 10 percent of the total land area,” the department added.

It also reiterated the earlier statement of “green architecture” advocate Jun Palafox, who is in charge of designing the temporary vaccine facility, that the site will have minimal impact on the environment and the ecosystem of the area.

According to DOT, the use of a portion of the lot is also similar to how the National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) and the City of Manila are currently adaptively repurposing the Burnham Green in Rizal Park into a mobile field hospital.