Briones: Line jumpers

Publio J. Briones III
·2 min read

Here’s the thing.

I don’t think there’s anything wrong if a government official gets himself or herself vaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) ahead of the general public.

I mean, a celebrity radio and television host and presidential envoy to China did admit last month that he, along with several government officials, were inoculated in October yet. Apparently, his vaccine came from the same batch used by members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Presidential Security Group.

Not that we should be surprised. After all, we all know that in this democratic country of ours where everybody is supposed to be equal, some people are more equal than others.

How many times have we seen people in power break the very laws they have vowed to uphold? Sometimes it’s as simple as no parking on the sidewalk or by the side of the road and yet, along Osmeña Blvd., members of the Philippine National Police do it all the time.

That’s why the news that the Palace is asking the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to investigate local chief executives who’ve been vaccinated left me scratching my head?

Has the Palace forgotten that DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya received the shot on March 4?

The answer, though, is quite simple really.

You see, unlike the broadcaster and other government officials who were injected with the Sinopharm vaccine that was allegedly smuggled into the country or CoronaVac, the vaccine donated by the Chinese government and manufactured by Chinese pharmaceutical firm Sinovac Biotech Ltd., the likes of Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez and Minglanilla Mayor Elanito Peña received a dose of the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine.

Now, the AZ vaccine arrived in the country from the Covax Facility, “an international partnership established to ensure equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines around the world,” and it came with a catch.

The first batch is intended for a specific group of people: medical frontliners.

Unless Romualdez, Peña and company can produce a piece of paper saying they have a degree in medicine or in a health-related field and they have been battling the pandemic up front, then they had no business jumping the line.

With their action, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the country’s future deliveries from Covax may be jeopardized.

So why did the mayors and I’m sure a lot of other government officials and their families not follow instructions?

For Romualdez, it was a matter of leading by example. According to him, he wanted to boost public confidence in the vaccine. I hate to say it, but he and other local officials who came up with the same excuse may be on to something.

After all, not even half of the 30,000 doses of AZ vaccines that arrived in Central Visayas had been used as of Monday, March 22.

As for Peña, well, he was just being a typical government official with a sense of entitlement.