The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) has issued a show-cause order to five mayors who have received the COVID-19 vaccine in defiance of government protocol to prioritize frontline healthcare workers.
In an interview with One News, DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said that the five mayors are Tacloban City, Leyte Mayor Alfred Romualdez; T’boli, South Cotabato Mayor Dibu Tuan; Sto. Niño, South Cotabato Mayor Sulpicio Villalobos; Legazpi City, Albay Mayor Noel Rosal; and Bataraza, Palawan Mayor Abraham Ibba.
Densing said the five mayors are given three days to respond to the order by explaining their side.
“If proven that they did violate the national deployment vaccination plan, we will endorse them to the Ombudsman for an administrative case,” said Densing.
Densing said it will be up to the Ombudsman to determine what appropriate charges the mayors will need to face.
But Romualdez, who has posted photos of himself while being vaccinated, maintained that he did nothing wrong as he decided to get vaccinated only to inspire confidence among local healthcare workers.
“I don’t think I broke the rule because the vaccines were here much much earlier and it got to the point na sobrang dami ang hindi magagamit at hindi ibabalik so what happens, tapos na health workers,” Romualdez said in a separate One News interview.
“Why I did that was to convince everybody that in spite of the risks, the challenges that I’m faced with, I did it para sila naman ay magpabakuna na because I believe that that is really the best solution,” said Romualdez.
But Densing said that vaccinating non-frontline healthcare workers risks the country’s allocation under the COVAX facility of the World Health Organization.
“The WHO clearly said that we have to follow the priority list, otherwise, they might reallocate our allocation to other countries,” said Densing.
Densing, however, defended his colleague DILG Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya who also had gotten himself inoculated on the first day of vaccination.
“From what I know, he has already submitted his explanation and he was in good faith when he got vaccinated, he never knew that there was already an order from Malacanang,” said Densing.