Malilong: Here’s wishing the czar more sprint

Frank Malilong
·2 min read

“Good news,” a wag wrote on Twitter last week. “The first one million doses of Covid-19 vaccines are arriving... on Feb. 29 and 30.”

Our vaccination program has become somewhat of a joke and that’s putting it generously. We have a program but no vaccination.

Early this month, the government announced that 2,480 out of of 2,987 health workers at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center will get their first dose of the vaccines on Feb. 15. That was six days ago and still not a single shot has been injected into a single arm of any single health worker until now.

In the meantime, the number of Covid-19 infections is growing at a rate that government health monitors, who have previously expressed confidence that the contagion would plateau by this time, found alarming.

So alarming, in fact, that they are already talking of putting Cebu back under a more restrictive, than the current MGCQ regime. As has always been the case, we will be the ones to get the shorter end of the stick again.

We should all cheer Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia’s fightback. We should hold government accountable for our reasonable and still unmet expectations instead of meekly bending over again in anticipation of another round of harsh restrictions.

Speed is of the essence in the delivery of the vaccines, a New York Times article correctly pointed out last Thursday. Cebu City Vice Mayor and vaccination czar Michael Rama correctly said the pace should be that of a sprint, not a run.

Mike’s stance is a welcome relief from the downer of another City Hall official’s recent declaration that they are not in a rush to secure the vaccines and would rather take their cue from the national government.

Holy cow, haven’t they heard that Malacañang has authorized local government units not only to negotiate directly with suppliers but also to make partial advance payments for their orders? What’s wrong with us?

It couldn’t be the money. If I can recall correctly, as early as in November last year, City Hall has assured us that it has set aside P500 million for the purchase of vaccines. The Land Bank of the Philippines also offered to lend P5 billion for the purpose, again if my memory serves me right.

Other LGUs have already placed their orders for the vaccine. Many private companies have done the same. I hope that Mike has at least already made inquiries as to which vaccines are still available in the market and somehow make up for the time that we lost because of our initial lackadaisical attitude.

Speed is of the essence. I wish you more sprint, Mike.