President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday named three Bohol town mayors who got vaccinated against COVID-19 despite not being on the priority list of vaccine recipients.
Duterte, in one of his usual late-night addresses to the nation, named nine mayors across the country including Alicia Mayor Victoriano Torres III, Lila Mayor Arturo Piollo II and San Miguel Mayor Virgilio Mendez.
Five of the mayors, none of them from Bohol, were issued show-cause orders by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Duterte said.
The president also wants the other mayors to explain why they jumped the priority list.
However, Duterte said that the there is a “gray area” when it comes to government leaders who get vaccinated first to allay fears from the public.
“Ako nito, itong mga opisyal, if the purpose is really to show to the constituent…constituency that it is safe, may ano ako…hindi ko ma-ano masyado. I said there’s a gray area there,” he said.
“Kasi nga noong una sinasabi magpaturok ako, dapat ako ang mauna. They forgot that ako ‘yong sa mga—category ko is ‘yong hindi na nga kailangan eh, hayaan na lang kami,” he added.
Both Piollo and Mendez, who got injected with the Sinovac and AstraZeneca jabs, respectively, explained that they decided to receive the vaccine to encourage others to get inoculated as well.
Mendez, 70, is also part of the senior citizen sector which is among those next in line for vaccination after frontliners.
Meanwhile, Bohol Local Government Operations Officer Mardonio Roxas said that DILG Bohol will take action on the issue if they receive a directive from higher offices of the department.
The DILG official noted that the mayors’ neglect of the priority list would only turn into an issue if people are fighting over the vaccine which, he said, is not the case.
“Wa pa may instruction karon na ipangsuwat ang mga ngan. Mahimo ra pud siguro ng posibli kung mag-inilugay na, kung dili mag-inilugay, mura’g di,” he added.
So far, there is a limited number of COVID-19 vaccines in the country with Duterte admitting that none of the jabs ordered by the government have arrived yet.
Those currently being distributed across the country are donations from the Chinese government and the COVAX facility of the World Health Organization. (R. Tutas)