COVID-19

Malacañang asks DILG to probe Tacloban mayor’s early vaccination

Ryan Macasero
Malacañang asks DILG to probe Tacloban mayor’s early vaccination

EARLY VACCINATION. Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez gets vaccinated. Alfred Romualdez's Facebook page

Alfred Romualdez's Facebook page

DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya also got vaccinated on March 4

A Palace official said they would ask the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to investigate Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez, who was vaccinated in public on Monday, despite not being a medical frontliner.

“Our priorities haven’t changed,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said during a virtual Malacañang press briefing on Tuesday, March 23.

“We can’t vaccinate those who are not frontliners because if we don’t follow the order of priority, our future deliveries from COVAX will be affected,” the spokesperson added.

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Romualdez posted a photo and video of himself, without a mask, on his Facebook page getting vaccinated despite not being a health worker.


The Philippines was the last country in Southeast Asia to rollout its vaccines and is currently on its first phase of its prioritization list, A1.

These groups include:

  • Frontline workers in health facilities both national and local
  • Private and public, health professionals and non-professionals like students
  • Nursing aides, janitors, barangay health workers, etc.
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Non-health local government employees and elected officials are not among the prioritized groups.

In a statement published on Tacloban’s city information office page, Romualdez said he did it to boost vaccine confidence.

“Because everyone was scared and everyone was waiting for me.  So I did it to lead my people out of fear,” Romualdez said.

He pointed out that most residents reacted “positively” to his public vaccination, where he was jabbed with CoronaVac, the COVID-19 vaccine developed by Sinovac Biotech, a Chinese biopharmaceutical company. 

“Never say that I did it to save myself before others.  I did it to make the people see that it was okay to get the vaccine. I wanted our people to take it for protection, and so that the efforts of the national government will not be in vain,” he added.

The Tacloban mayor said he was willing to face sanctions if he had violated any protocol.

On Tuesday, the mayor of Minglanilla town in Metro Cebu, Elanito Peña, also got vaccinated despite not being a health worker.

Department of Health Central Visayas urged mayors to wait their turn. 

“We enjoin our local officials and all other members of the various sectors that are not yet in the priority listing to patiently wait,” Dr Mary Jean Loreche, DOH Central VIsayas spokesperson told Cebu media in a text message.

“Soon, it will be your turn and let’s all fall in line in order not to jeopardize our vaccination program,” she added.

Earlier in March, Interior Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya jumped the line himself and got vaccinated.

Roque said after Malaya got vaccinated that it was a breach in protocol, but “done in good faith.”

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) chief of staff Michael Salalima also got vaccinated at the Pasay City General Hospital during the official kickoff of the vaccination drive there. 

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After health workers, the next group in line for vaccinations are senior citizens 60 years old and above.

The government is targeting 50 to 70 million COVID-19 inoculations by the end of 2021. – Rappler.com

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.