Duterte did not cause overcrowding in vax sites — Roque

Published August 9, 2021, 3:25 PM

by Argyll Cyrus Geducos

Malacañang asked local chief executives to not blame President Duterte for the incident last week where people flocked to different vaccination sites in fear of not being allowed to go out during the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque (OPS / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after some Filipinos online referred to President Duterte’s remarks about limiting the movement of the unvaccinated population as one of the reasons why many people flocked to different vaccination sites in Metro Manila and Calabarzon a day before the two-week ECQ was imposed to address the rising number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases.

In his press briefing on Monday, August 9, Roque said the theory was impossible because the incident took place many days after Duterte made the controversial remark.

“Nangyari po ang pagdumog ng mga tao sa ilang vaccination sites noong madaling araw ng Huwebes, August 5. Kailan po huling nagsalita ang Presidente tungkol sa bagay na ito? July 28 pa po (The incident happened early Thursday morning on August 5. The President last spoke about it on July 28),” he said.

“Lunes po huling nagsalita ang Presidente. Kung talagang reaksyon po ‘yan sa sinabi ni Presidente, dapat po ‘yan ay nagsiksikan na Tuesday pa lang or Wednesday. pero hindi po nangyari yun (The President last spoke on Monday. If the incident was really a reaction to that, then it should have taken place on a Tuesday or Wednesday but that was not the case),” he added.

Roque clarified that President Duterte was only referring to those on the vaccination priority list A2 (senior citizens) and A3 (persons with comorbidities) but continued to refuse to get vaccinated.

“‘Wag nating lagyan ng kulay yung mga sinabi ni Presidente. Hina-highlight po niya doon yung mga ayaw magpabakuna na nasa A2 at A3, malinaw po ‘yan sa konteksto ng sinasabi ni Presidente (Let’s not add color to the President’s statement. He was highlighting those in A2 and A3 groups but don’t want to get vaccinated. That is clear),” he said.

Roque asked local government units (LGUs) that instead of blaming the President, they should accept the fact that ensuring an orderly vaccination was their responsibility.

“‘Wag naman kayong magbabaling ng pula sa ating Presidente (Don’t shift the blame to the President),” he said.

“The bottom line is katungkulan niyo pa rin na kayo ang magpatupad ng maayos at makataong pagbabakunahan (it’s your duty to implement an orderly and humane vaccination),” he added.

Roque had acknowledged last week that people flocked to vaccination sites due to fake news that unvaccinated people will not be allowed to leave their homes during ECQ and that they will not receive the cash aid.

He also wondered why fake news propagators have not caught COVID-19 yet.

The Palace official, however, warned that local chief executives could be liable for dereliction of duty if they cannot ensure that minimum health standards such as physical distancing are observed in vaccination sites.