COVID-19

Razon: Nayong Pilipino mega vaccination hub needed for cold storage

Ralf Rivas
Razon: Nayong Pilipino mega vaccination hub needed for cold storage

HEALTH FACILITY. The quarantine site at Nayong Pilipino in Parañaque City.

Nayong Pilipino

Why not give the vaccines to localities instead of building a facility at Nayong Pilipino? It's about the subzero temperatures, says Enrique Razon Jr.

Ports and gaming tycoon Enrique Razon Jr. reiterated his call to build a mega COVID-19 vaccination facility at the Nayong Pilipino site in Parañaque City, emphasizing the special temperature needs of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines.

The facility would be funded by the foundation of International Container Terminal Services Incorporated (ICTSI), of which Razon is chairman.

In an interview with CNN Philippines on Tuesday, May 11, a fired-up Razon answered critics’ questions over the proposed vaccination site.

Why build a hub rather than distribute vaccines to cities, municipalities, or barangays?

Razon: This vaccine (Moderna), similar to Pfizer, requires special handling. Very low temperatures many degrees below zero. In the case of Moderna, 25°C to 30°C below zero, so this needs very special handling. You cannot just spread out these vaccines all over the place because of the special temperature requirements and the special handling. Investments had to be made.

Razon was key in the private sector’s initiative to secure Moderna vaccines. (READ: TRACKER: The Philippines’ COVID-19 vaccine distribution)

Some 20 million doses of Moderna were secured, of which 7 million would be for private sector workers, while 13 million would go to the government.

The Moderna vaccine doses are expected to arrive by the last week of June. Razon aims to start inoculation within 24 hours of the arrival of the doses.

What about the trees in the area?

Razon: It’s reclaimed land that has been empty for more than 10 years. It’s not like this is a forest in Quezon or Marikina or somewhere. It’s an empty property where weeds have grown. People from Nayong Pilipino did not plant trees there. This has just grown wild like weeds. It’s mostly talahib and some ipil-ipil trees that would grow on any property.

The Nayong Pilipino Foundation (NPF) earlier said cutting nearly 500 trees to make way for the mega vaccination center would “kill the existing ecosystem.”

“Once lost, it could take decades to recover this ecosystem. A mega vaccination facility that will destroy this ecosystem would be a disaster and a disservice to the residents of Metro Manila who need more green and open spaces,” it had said.

The NPF is already hosting a quarantine facility, operated by the Armed Forces of the Philippines, on the property.

Nayong Pilipino issues

In a letter addressed to the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC), the NPF raised three concerns.

First, the foundation asked the OGCC if it can validly enter into an agreement allowing the temporary use of the property as a mega vaccination facility.

Second, the NPF is unsure if it can allow a private entity to use its property without compensation.

Third, it asked whether or not certain conditions must be imposed regarding the use of the property.

The NPF also pointed out that the Commission on Audit has rules regarding the use of public property by private entities. It said unlawful use could lead to charges of technical malversation.

It also cited Executive Order No. 615 issued back in 2007, which states that the land must be used as a cultural park. – Rappler.com

Ralf Rivas

A sociologist by heart, a journalist by profession. Ralf is Rappler's business reporter, covering macroeconomy, government finance, companies, and agriculture.