Mindanao not neglected in COVID response, vaccine distribution — Roque

Published June 15, 2021, 5:20 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government has dispelled allegations that it had neglected Mindanao in terms of responding to the pandemic, including the distribution of coronavirus vaccines.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque (File photo/Malacañang)

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque explained that the rise in cases of infections in some areas in Visayas and Mindanao was supposedly due to the low public compliance with health regulations, not government neglect.

“Hindi po totoo iyan (That’s not true),” Roque said during a televised press briefing Tuesday, June 15 after some lawmakers blasted the government’s alleged neglect of Mindanao during the pandemic as some cities experienced a surge in coronavirus cases.

“Mayroon pong mga datos na nagpapakita na kaya din nag-surge po sa ilang parte ng Pilipinas — sa Visayas and Mindanao – eh kasi hindi nag-ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), hindi nag-MECQ (modified enhanced community quarantine). At talagang bumaba po ang compliance with the minimum health protocols (Data showed a case surge in some parts of the Philippines, in Visayas and Mindanao, because they did not shift to ECQ, MECQ. The compliance with the minimum health protocols also dropped),” he added.

On allegations of inequitable distribution of vaccines in the country, Roque clarified that National Capital Region (NCR) Plus was initially given priority in vaccine access after recording high cases of coronavirus.

Additional vaccine supplies were eventually distributed to other parts of the country as more supplies arrive, he added.

“Bagama’t sinasabi natin na binigyan ng prayoridad ang (Although we said we gave priority to) Metro Manila Plus, that’s only to the extent of around 38% of the vaccines. But the remaining balance are still delivered to the rest of the Philippines pursuant to equitable distribution as mandated by the President,” Roque said.

“So hindi po totoo iyan na ginipit natin ang ibang parte ng Pilipinas, hindi po. Inuna lang natin iyong una na pinakamataas ang numero, pero ngayong tumataas po sa iba, nagpapadala rin tayo ng karagdagang bakuna sa mga lugar na iyan (So it is not true that other parts of the Philippines were deprived of vaccines. We just prioritized areas with the highest cases but now that some areas have seen a surge, we have sent additional vaccines to these places),” he said.

Roque also insisted that the surge in coronavirus cases was not due to the scarce vaccine supply.

“Iyan po ay dahil bumaba ang compliance with minimum health requirements (That’s was due to the drop in compliance with minimum health requirements),” he said, reminding anew the public to continue to wear mask, frequently wash hands, and observe safe distancing from others to avoid the coronavirus.

READ: Solon fumes over rising COVID-19 deaths in Mindanao: ‘I will fault you, vaccine czar!’

Deputy Speaker and Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez recently lashed out at the national government for its alleged slow COVID response in Mindanao. Some cities in the south have reportedly seen a surge in COVID infections and deaths.

“They are giving a lot of vaccines to Metro Manila which is lowering cases already. If not for this meeting, they will not see the urgency of addressing the COVID situation in Mindanao,” Rodriguez said.