Editorial: Class goat?

·3 min read

LATE December, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella, who also chairs the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), sought the opinion of national vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. after President Rodrigo Duterte approved the recommendation to allow local governments to buy Covid vaccines.

Local executives are encouraged to work closely with the National Government and vaccine manufacturers to secure advance purchases of vaccines.

Labella said the scheme must be a way to avoid black market dealings and ensure that the public get their supply from legitimate sources only.

That was late December, and since then we haven’t heard of any progress of any “tripartite agreement” in the works. Councilor Alvin Dizon’s ordinance that pushed for a Covid vaccination program was filed in early December yet. It’s 2021, and the ordinance must have been stuck on the legal committee level still, and we haven’t had any news on the progress of discussion on it, if it was at all discussed. Or, perhaps, it is being talked about, except that either no one asked or that we’re all bug-eyed over Sinulog, a red herring of some sort that tricked us from badgering government over the largely relevant issue of immunization. Does Dizon’s ordinance signal that there was a void to be filled, that the executive had been lackadaisical as far as coming up with a vaccination plan was concerned?

Be green with envy, Cebuanos. On Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021, Quezon City had sealed a deal with British manufacturer AstraZeneca for 750,000 doses of Covid jab. Since the version requires a double shot, that figure is good enough to arm some 375,000 citizens against Covid. The figure, said Mayor Joy Belmonte, is the maximum that can be allocated for now, although the city had earmarked P1 billion for vaccination. In contrast, Cebu City had set P500 million for the same purpose under its 2021 annual budget.

Meantime, too, Pasig City has announced that its frontliners will get their anti-Covid shots as early as February. Makati City had also set P1 billion for its vaccination program, and had installed an online platform to pre-register its beneficiaries and ensure a safer, more strategic rollout. The pre-registration comes as a perfect response to the latest study that said only one of four people in the capital region is willing to take the Covid jab.

Paying attention to the aggressive strides other local governments have done makes one wonder if our own officials are again struck by sudden fits of mediocrity and stupor. Are they throwing their priorities in the wrong places? Or are they just plain unimaginative?

We understand that our national agencies will have to make the major rollouts once the vaccines are in, but the President himself had encouraged local governments to initiate advanced purchases themselves for their citizens. And that’s precisely why we laud the other cities for coming out fast and innovative in responding to that challenge.

We look at our own backyard and sigh. Yes, these people can’t give what they don’t have.