Abalos blames ‘fake news’ in crowding at NCR vaxx sites

- By Claudeth Mocon-ciriaco @claudethmc­3

THE Metropolit­an Manila Developmen­t-authority (mmda) on Thursday denied a report that Metro Manila mayors would not extend cash perks to those who have not been vaccinated against Covid-19, and asked the National Bureau of Investigat­ion (NBI) to investigat­e the spread of such “fake news” and misinforma­tion.

MMDA Chairman Benjamin “Benhur” Abalos Jr. blamed the inf lux of people to the vaccinatio­n centers on Thursday to the viral spread of the fake news in social media.

Abalos said the fake news alarmed the public and went in droves to vaccinatio­n sites in Manila, Las Piñas, and Masinag in Antipolo.

“Everything was in order until the proliferat­ion of this fake news. These misinforma­tion would affect not only the vaccinatio­n process and target, but would cause harm to peoples’ lives,” Abalos emphasized.

‘No vaccine, no work’ policy

THE Department of Health (DOH), on the other hand, clarified that the policy on “no vaccine, no work” is not allowed.

The DOH stated that based on the Department of Labor and Employment Advisory No.03 Series of 2021, all employers may “encourage” their employees to get vaccinated.

“However, any employee who chooses not to get vaccinated or fails to get vaccinated shall not be discrimina­ted against in terms of employment,” the DOH said in an advisory.

“Additional­ly, Republic Act 11525 states that vaccine cards shall not be considered as an additional requiremen­t for employment purposes,” DOH said.

‘No bakuna, no ayuda’ policy

MEANWHILE, Abalos issued a clarificat­ion on the alleged “no bakuna, no ayuda” in the National Capital Region (NCR).

“To set the record straight, the distributi­on of ayuda and/or benefits or privileges is not anchored on whether an individual has been inoculated or not,” Abalos said.

In a letter sent to NBI Officer-incharge Eric Distor, Abalos asked the NBI to probe the sources of fake news and hold the purveyors accountabl­e.

“I am requesting your Bureau to initiate the investigat­ion of the said fake news in order for those persons responsibl­e therefore to be held accountabl­e in causing unruliness at the vaccinatio­n sites and thereafter to file the necessary charges against them,” said Abalos, in his letter.

Abalos also said that the ayuda or cash aid from the government amounting to P1,000 to P4,000 will be given to low-incomeresi­dents—regardless if they are vaccinated or not. He also reiterated the commitment of the 17 local government units in Metro Manila to administer 250,000 jabs daily during the two-week enhanced community quarantine period as the national government approved NCR’S request for 4 million vaccines to achieve population protection the soonest time possible.

To date, there are more than 10 million total doses administer­ed in the entire metropolis and with the 4 million vaccine allocation in the NCR during ECQ, 12.6 at least 45 percent of the NCR population will be inoculated after the lockdown.

“All the local chief executives in Metro Manila are resolved to ramp up the vaccinatio­n program. We assure the public that the supply of vaccines is secured,” Abalos said.

The MMDA chairman advised the public against the spread of such fake news that only causes disorder to the program. “Do not believe in fake news. Let us wait for your vaccinatio­n schedule. Local chief executives of Metro Manila are on top of the situation, ensuring that queues are orderly,” he said.

Govt action

JUSTICE Secretary Menardo Guevarra assured on Thursday that the government would take appropriat­e action in connection with the “chaotic” Covid-19 vaccinatio­ns that transpired in several areas, particular­ly in Manila City.

Guevarra, also a senior member of the Inter-agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), made the statement when asked about the task force’s possible action against local officials for turning their vaccinatio­n sites into Covid-19 “super spreader” events.

Even Presidenti­al spokesman Harry Roque, in his regular media briefing, warned that local officials may face derelictio­n of duty charges if they fail to address overcrowdi­ng and other breach of health protocols in their vaccinatio­n sites.

“I’m sorry to hear about this incident. I’m sure that the DILG [Department of the Interior and Local Government] has taken note of this incident and will take the appropriat­e action,” Guevarra said.

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año is also a senior member of the IATF.

Earlier, President Duterte directed the DILG to compel local government units (LGU) to fix their vaccinatio­n system to ensure that people are not exposed to health risks and other inconvenie­nces on the day of their vaccinatio­n.

The Manila City government headed by Mayor Isko Moreno has been under fire for opening the vaccinatio­n program of the city to walk-ins despite the limited number of vaccines, resulting in overcrowdi­ng and long lines in vaccinatio­n sites.

On Tuesday, Health Undersecre­tary Myrna Cabotaje also urged LGUS to restrict walk-in vaccinatio­n to prevent mass gathering and super spreader events.

Cabotaje suggested limiting the walk-in policy to senior citizens being vulnerable to Covid-19.

“The more important thing at this time is to make sure that no similar incident of overcrowdi­ng at vaccine sites will happen again,” Guevarra pointed out.

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