Catholic bishops in Metro Manila have reportedly declined a free offer for COVID-19 vaccination. They say this is to give way for the country’s frontliners and the poor.
On Monday, January 18, Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao revealed that he received a sponsorship offer to have him and other bishops and priests vaccinated against COVID-19 right away. However, he said that he had to decline the offer and advice that the help must first be given to the frontliners and vulnerable sectors.
“Since we are considered frontliners… someone offered to the NCR (National Capital Region) bishops and priests vaccine and it will be sponsored,” Ongtioco said.
“We are grateful for the offer but we said we would be happy if it will be given to the poor first because they have no means to pay,” he added. (Read: Pope Urges Leaders to Involve the Poor in Post-Pandemic Planning)
Manila’s Bishop Broderick Pabillo shared the same sentiment, who pointed out that it is not the priests, but the poor that has to be given more attention and care in this time of a pandemic. “Priority should be given to frontliners and the vulnerable instead of priests,” Pabillo said.
The Philippine government is now working to procure COVID-19 vaccines from different pharmaceutical companies around the world. Local municipalities and national agencies have also laid out plans and identified priority groups for the vaccination program. (Read: How Effective is China’s Sinopharm COVID-19 Vaccine?)
Philippine vaccine czar and COVID-19 National Task Force Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr. said that priority will be given to medical workers, senior citizens, indigents, and uniformed personnel. (Read: Task Force Names Priority Areas for COVID-19 Vaccination)
He added that people in “high burden” areas will be vaccinated first. “We will concentrate on focus areas that emerge as ‘epicenters’ of the pandemic, and then we will focus on the sectors or priority groups,” Galvez explained.