(UPDATE No.1) MMDA chief Abalos says no vaccine, no 'ayuda' claims are fake news; asks NBI to go after perpetrators

Published August 5, 2021, 5:11 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Benhur Abalos has told the public not to believe in the allegations on social media that those who haven’t been vaccinated against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) won’t be given “ayuda” or cash aid.

MMDA Chairman Benhur Abalos speaks during the Aug. 5, 2021 event at SM Megamall (Screengrab from Facebook live)

“Huwag kayong maniwala sa fake news. Ito’y ginugulo ang programa natin. Ang sinabi ba naman, na kung wala kang bakuna ay wala kang matatanggap na ayuda…Wala pong katotohanan yun (Don’t believe in fake news. It will cause chaos in our program. They’re claiming that those who haven’t been vaccinated won’t receive cash aid…there’s no truth to that),” Abalos said Thursday morning, Aug. 5 during an event at SM Megamall that marked the milestone of 10 million fully vaccinated Filipinos.

“Sa mga nanggugulo, ngayon pa lang ini-imbistigahan na kayo ng NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] at kung mahuli kayo ipakukulong kayo (To those trying to create chaos, the NBI is already Investigation you, and you will be jailed if you get caught),” he said.

“I’m sure [Department of Interior and Local Government] Secretary [Eduardo] Año and the mayors will be on top of this. There will be policemen who will guard this,” added the MMDA chief.

It was later learned on Thursday afternoon that Abalos had indeed sent a letter sent to NBI Officer-in-Charge Eric Distor wherein he asked the latter to probe who the sources of fake news were as well as to hold the perpetrators accountable.

“I am requesting your Bureau to initiate the investigation of the said fake news in order for those persons responsible therefore to be held accountable in causing unruliness at the vaccination sites and thereafter to file the necessary charges against them,” wrote Abalos, a lawyer, in the letter.

Abalos said he had received reports of people rushing to vaccination centers in a state of panic thinking that they won’t be given assistance by the national government unless they get the jab.

He said such instances took place Wednesday in Manila, Masinag, and Las Piñas.

Abalos clarified that the cash aid from the government amounting to P1,000 per person (with a maximum of four persons per family for a total of P4,000) will be given to low-income residents regardless if they have been vaccinated or not.

“Huwag tayong maniwala sa fake news. Mababakunahan tayo, antayin niyo schedule niyo. Nandyan ang mga alkalde, magiging maayos po ang lahat, magiging maayos ang pila and let’s make sure walang makakahawa (Let us not believe in fake news. We will all get vaccinated, just wait for your schedule. The mayors are there to make sure that everything will be orderly and safe),” underscored Abalos, himself a former Mandaluyong City mayor.

Referring to the spreaders of fake news on social media, Abalos said: “We are now at a phase na medyo kritical. Importante na magkatulungan ang lahat at hindi po kayo nakakatulong (We are now at a critical phase. It’s important that we help each other, and your actions aren’t helping).”

Año earlier said that the distribution of ayuda to Metro Manila residents in connection with the upcoming reimposition of the enhanced community quarantine or ECQ would begin on Aug. 6.