Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Tuesday, February 16, said that members of the media should also be considered in the priority list of the government’s national COVID-19 vaccination program without prejudice to other sectors already identified as priorities, such as frontliners as well as poor and vulnerable sectors.
In an interview after the turnover of a fire truck and a government grant to cooperatives in Kibawe, Bukidnon, Go said that the reporters are also like frontliners who risk their safety on the field just to keep Filipinos informed on the country’s COVID-19 situation.
“Ang mga media para sa akin po ay maituturing din pong napakaimportanteng sektor ng lipunan dahil para na rin po kayong frontliners dahil kayo ang nagdadala ng balita, kung ano ang dapat gawin sa lugar, kayo ang na-expose,” Go said.
“So, dapat po ang media ay bigyan din ng prayoridad ‘pag andyan na ang safe at epektibong vaccine para tuloy-tuloy din po ang inyong pagtatrabaho, pagko-cover at pagdadala ng balita sa ating mga kababayan,” he added.
As the Philippines aims to start rolling out vaccines against COVID-19 soon, President Rodrigo Duterte was urged by Go and officials of the National Task Force against COVID-19 to certify as urgent a measure seeking to expedite procurement of vaccines by LGUs and establish a vaccine indemnity fund. Also on Tuesday, Go delivered during the regular Senate plenary session his co-sponsorship speech for the Senate Bill No. 2057.
The proposed Vaccine Indemnification Fund is intended to be earmarked exclusively to compensate and indemnify identified vaccine recipients who sustain injury in connection with the use of the vaccines and where the adverse effects are attributable to the vaccination.
According to vaccine czar Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., all vaccine manufacturers require indemnity and liability frameworks, which include setting up an indemnification fund backed by legislation to safeguard them from possible damage suits. They have informed the NTF that without legislation covering indemnification, they may not be able to supply the vaccine.
Galvez also said that immunization could start between late February or in March, when the first batch of vaccine doses are expected to arrive in the country.
Meanwhile, Go said that he is willing to be vaccinated in public along with President Duterte to allay the fears of the public over the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines.
“Kami ni Pangulong Duterte, handa kami sabay na magpabakuna, hindi po dahil kami (ay opisyales), pero bilang mga opisyales ay ipakita natin sa publiko at makuha natin ang kumpiyansa ng bawat Pilipino na safe at epektibo po itong vaccine na binibili po ng gobyerno,” he said.
In an earlier statement, Go said that Duterte will get vaccinated in public upon the approval of his physician in an effort to boost the vaccine confidence of Filipinos.
“Nagkausap na rin kami ni Pangulong Duterte. Plano na rin n’yang magpabakuna kung pumayag na po ang kanyang doktor at dapat po itong isa-publiko para makuha po ang kumpiyansa ng mga Pilipino para magpabakuna ang iba,” Go said.
“Kasi, kadalasan sa ngayon ay nagtuturuan. Gusto magpabakuna, ayaw nila mauna. So, sino ang dapat mauna, ‘yung mga opisyales natin,” he added.
As public servants, Go also mentioned that he and Duterte are willing to serve as examples to get the confidence of the Filipinos on COVID-19 vaccines.
“Alam n’yo, not because kaming mga opisyales ay prayoridad sa bakuna. Hindi po dapat ‘yan. Pero bilang isang ehemplo, to get the confidence of the Filipino people, ang mga opisyales […] ay dapat po manguna sa pagpapabakuna,” he said.
Go said that Duterte is now just waiting for the clearance as to what type of vaccine will be inoculated to him.
“Ang inaantay na lang namin, ang clearance ng Pangulo kung anong klaseng vaccine ang ituturok sa kanya dahil iba’t ibang klase ng vaccine. May Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Sinopharm,” Go said.
“‘Yun po ang pinag-aaralan ng doktor ng Pangulo. ‘Di na po kwestyon kung bawal siyang bakunahan, ang kwestyon na lang po ay kung anong bakuna po,” he ended.