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LGUs bare plans for mass vaccination as Malacañang’s PSG goes ‘under the table’ to ‘protect PRRD’

Amidst controversies within the President’s cabinet and close-in security, local government units have once again taken up the mantle of planning ahead for the global pandemic.

As the President’s own security detail and cabinet go under fire for its questionable medical decisions, Metro Manila’s mayors are once again stepping up.

On January 4, Makati Mayor Abby Binay revealed her city’s plans to get Makatizens protected against COVID-19 for free.

Speaking to reporters, Binay said the city is already in talks with vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. and the IATF to “finalize details of the purchase and mass vaccination.”

Makati has set aside P1 billion that will be approved once they get the green light from the IATF.

“This is our number one priority for 2021. I want each and every Makatizen to receive both doses of the coronavirus vaccine for free to protect them and their families against the virus,” Binay told reporters.

Netizens have, of course, reacted with mixed responses to Makati’s plans.

While most lauded the mayor for being proactive,

… a lot of netizens have pointed out how Makati is treating itself as an island.

Some have even pointed out how a portion of Makati’s denizens can actually pay for the vaccine, and asked that the city simply donate their budget to programs that will facilitate mass vaccinations for the poor.

Others chided their local leaders to “keep up” with Binay, to which at least four have already laid out plans.

In an interview with ANC, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said his city has already allocated P250 million for the purchase of vaccines from Pfizer and AstraZeneca, with room to go to P1 billion.

He added that the city has also put up a website where Manila residents can register to avail of the free vaccine.

San Juan City followed suit, with Mayor Francis Zamora announcing the start of registrations for their residents on Monday, January 4, to be held at health centers in each of the city’s barangays.

P50 million of San Juan City’s funds will be allocated towards the purchase of vaccines.

Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian, meanwhile, said it has allocated P150-million budget to get its residents vaccinated.

Pasig City has allocated P300 million to purchase COVID-19 vaccines.

Other cities and municipalities have allocated between P20 million and P170 million for COVID-19 vaccines, including Pateros, Muntinlupa City, Malabon City, and Caloocan City, which has set aside a whopping P500 million.

Quezon City, the largest city in the country by land area, has anted up P1 billion to purchase not just vaccines but other consumables like PPEs and syringes.

These plans, however, might go down the drain if these local government units do not coordinate with the IATF.

In a statement, the Department of Health (DOH) said LGUs cannot yet procure their own COVID-19 vaccines, and that they “need them to work with the national government.”

Netizens were quick to point out how ironic this statement was after the stunt that the Presidential Security Group (PSG) pulled before the end of 2020.

The PSG has recently gone under fire for allegedly smuggling doses of a still-unidentified vaccine from Sinopharm and inoculating its personnel without the aid of health care workers.

For its part, Malacañang welcomed the questionable move by the PSG, even if it meant “sacrificing their lives” to protect the President.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque would, however, assure that those involved in smuggling doses of the Chinese-made vaccine would face the consequences of their actions.

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