Caritas Philippines calls for COVID-19 vaccine ‘for all’

January 4, 2021 - 9:00 AM
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Small bottles labelled with "Vaccine" stickers seen near a medical syringe in front of displayed "Coronavirus COVID-19" words in this illustration taken April 10, 2020. (Reuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo)

The Catholic Church’s social action arm has renewed its appeal for the government to hasten the process of vaccine selection and approval.

Bishop Jose Colin Bagaforo, Caritas Philippines’ national director, echoed the global call to make the Covid-19 vaccine “available for all”.

The bishop issued the remarks after the controversial vaccination of President Rodrigo Duterte’s security men and Cabinet officials despite the absence of an approved vaccine in the country.

He said that “it was irresponsible to allow the breach of the regulatory process” and lamented that “our government is actually tolerating such imprudent and unauthorized action, even if PSG is saying the vaccines were donated.”

READ: Duterte’s PSG used ‘smuggled’ COVID-19 vaccines, says Lorenzana

Duterte earlier said that his goal was to provide a free vaccine to all 113 million Filipinos.

However, the Department of Finance said that they are still to source out 73.2 billion pesos to pay for the vaccination of 60 million population.

Fr. Antonio Labiao Jr., Caritas Philippines’ executive secretary, urged the authorities “to speed up all regulatory processes so that vaccines will be available to us soonest.”

He also stressed that “while we agree on the list of priority sectors to be vaccinated first, it is imperative for the government to ensure that majority of the Filipinos will have access to the vaccines when its already available for mass use.”

“In this time of pandemic, we must strive to do away with selfish interests,” Labiao said.

Caritas Philippines, he also said, will also exert all efforts available to assist the government in easing the burden being experienced, especially in the most marginalized communities.

Since March, the country’s social action network has been able to provide more than 1 billion pesos worth of assistance through its national partners, and Caritas Internationalis.

“Our goal has always been to prioritize aid corresponding to the needs of the vulnerable Filipinos,” Bagaforo said.

“We will continue to be vigilant, especially of government actions, to ensure that the rights, welfare and dignity of the Filipino people prevail over political machinations, vested interests, and greed for power,” he added.