Garin denies asking for own allocation of COVID-19 jabs

Iloilo Representative Janette Garin refuted the claim of vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. that she was demanding for vaccine allocation from the government for her and her province.

Former Department of Health secretary and incumbent Iloilo Representative Janette Garin (John Jerome Ganzon/MANILA BULLETIN File Photo)

In an online press conference on Thursday, July 8, the former Department of Health secretary said the statements made by Galvez during an earlier television interview were not true, maintaining she only sought for a fair distribution of coronavirus vaccines across the country.

"This is not true at malaki po 'yang kasinungalingan (and that is a big lie). What I am for is a equitable and fair distribution of vaccines," Garin told reporters.

The congresswoman disclosed that Galvez texted her to say he was "hurt" when she called out the supposed "palakasan" or patronage system in the country's vaccine rollout.

Garin explained she made the appeal in behalf of local officials in her province, who, she said, are "panicking" over the uncertainty on when they would be given the COVID-19 vaccines by the national government, and how many doses will be allocated to them.

Vaccine distribution, she maintained, should be scientific and population-based.

"Lahat dapat mayroon. Lahat dapat naka-schedule. Dapat lahat premeditated at informed ang mga lugar kahit saang sulok pa ng bansa para 'yong mga LGU ay nakakapagplano din (Every LGU should have an allocation. Everything should be scheduled. Everything should be premeditated and areas should informed wherever they are in the country, so the LGUs can also prepare)," she said.

Some LGUs have already suspended their first dose vaccinations due to the lack of vaccines, she noted. "No wonder medyo matagal po talaga tayong magkaroon ng herd immunity (No wonder it will take long for us to achieve herd immunity)."

Garin also denied using the coronavirus vaccines for politics, recalling that national government officials themselves have been appealing for help and coordination from all sectors to address the coronavirus outbreak.

The province of Iloilo, she added, has been experiencing a surge in COVID-19 cases.

"Dahil walang malinaw na batayan kaya nagkakatawagan (People are calling him for vaccines because there is no clear basis as to how they are allocating the vaccines to localities)," she pointed out.

In an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel, Galvez accused Garin of asking for vaccine allocation for herself as he denied favoritism in the allocation of COVID-19 vaccines.

He said they are only heeding personal requests from other local officials "so they would not be discouraged in calling the government for help."

He insisted that priority be given for highly-urbanized LGUs.

On Tuesday, July 6, Galvez apologized anew for the delay in the delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, even as he announced that the Philippines has already secured more supplies of anti-coronavirus jabs.