Senators to IATF, DOH: Heed implementers on ground on vaccine rollout

Published June 12, 2021, 8:42 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senators on Saturday, June 12, asked the government task force and the Department of Health (DOH) to give designated czars and local government units (LGUs) more authority in implementing the vaccination program.

Workers belonging to the A4 priority group are inoculated with Sputnik V COVID-19 vaccines inside a cinema-turned vaccination hub in a mall on Tuesday, June 8, 2021 (ALI VICOY/MANILA BULLETIN)

Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Panfilo Lacson disclosed that they met testing czar Vince Dizon and contact tracing czar Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong last Thursday, June 10, about the country’s efforts against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sen. Ronald dela Rosa was also in the meeting, Lacson said.

“We advised them to be more assertive. Senate President Sotto even said that if they are sure they are right and their ‘superiors’ are wrong, they can ‘defy’ them. Also, it is the people on the ground such as mayors who can appreciate the situation better. So it is important that they be given flexibility and more autonomy in the implementation of the vaccination program,” Lacson said in an interview on CNN Philippines.

In a separate interview, Sotto said Dizon and Magalong reported to them that consultants in the Interagency Task Force (IATF) on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases are “too theoretical” when they do not know what is happening on ground.

“Pagdating doon sa mga consultants ng DOH, eh kung anu-ano raw ang binibigay sa kanilang mga ano, mga bawal-bawal, ganoon (When it comes to the consultants from the DOH, they were given several reminders, prohibitions, things like that),” Sotto told radio DWIZ.

“Pakinggan nila ‘yong mga LGUs, kasi otherwise, alam mo, ang mangyayari dito, baka magulat na lang sila pag pumalag ng pumalag itong mga LGU, meron tayong anarkiya (They should listen to LGUs, because otherwise, they’d be surprised when these LGUs start defying orders, there would be anarchy),” the Senate leader warned.

“Kung ano ‘yong tama para sa mga kababayan natin, ‘yon ang gawin (They should implement what’s right for our countrymen),” Sotto further said.

Lacson, for his part, said giving implementers more flexibility will be crucial to the success of the government’s efforts to accelerate its COVID-19 vaccination drive.

“It’s very important that our people will trust the vaccines. Our people should get the jab done and the government should get the job done. If people see shortcomings or lapses on the part of the government, how could you improve people’s trust in vaccines?” he pointed out.

The Senate Committee of the Whole will hold a hearing on Tuesday, June 15, to look into the government’s vaccine rollout.