DOT counters Nayong Pilipino Foundation's claims: 'They were sufficiently apprised of mega vax site'

It was the Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF) that approved and chose the site of the proposed temporary mega vaccination hub on its property, contrary to the claims of its resigned executive director, the Department of Tourism (DOT) said.

The Palafox group's design of the mega vaccination site. (Photo from the Department of Tourism)

The DOT issued on Wednesday, May 12, a lengthy statement “to correct the claims" of NPF's former executive director Lucille Karen Malilong-Isberto on the planned vaccination facility at the foundation’s property in Parañaque City.

The NPF, an attached agency of the DOT, has yet to sign the memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 to begin construction works on its property despite the plan's approval a month ago. Isberto cited "environmental, health, and legal issues," and claimed that no details on the project have been presented to the foundation.

However, the DOT denied this and bared that it was the NPF Board of Trustees, including Isberto, who "met and approved" the request of the government’s pandemic task force last April 8 to use its property for the mega vaccination facility.

“There were two meetings between the NPF technical team and the team of architects engaged by the private sector to construct the free and temporary public walk-in and drive-through vaccination center,” the DOT said.

It was also the NPF that identified the spot where the facility would be constructed. It was later accepted by the private sector architects.

"The site that was offered by NPF is the area where there would minimal impact to the environment. Atty. Isberto was present in one of those meetings last April 17, 2021," the agency explained.

Isberto also raised environmental concerns stating that the abrupt cutting of nearly 500 trees, along with other site works on the NPF property will "kill the existing ecosystem" and will adversely affect Metro Manila residents.

However, the tourism department outright denied this claim, adding that no trees will be affected as environmental planner and "green architecture" advocate Jun Palafox will lead the team of architects in the design of the vaccination site.

"The environment is of paramount consideration in the architectural plans. The architectural team has made sure to build the temporary vaccination facility around existing grasslands and trees," the DOT said.

"The NPF was sufficiently apprised. Minutes of the meetings where the architectural plan of the Palafox Team was discussed showed that the NPF officials were present in the discussion. The option that they themselves offered was used by the private sector design team," it added.

The design that the Nayong Pilipino Foundation proposed with their handwritten notes. (Photo from the Department of Tourism)

The proposed mega vaccination center at Nayong Pilipino is supposed to help accelerate the government’s mass vaccination program against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) via its capacity to inoculate 10,000 individuals daily.

Last month, the DOT allowed the construction of a mobile field hospital and drive-through vaccination site at the Burnham Green of Rizal Park.