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Manila Standard : Face shields and vaccine procurement

News & Interviews
9 September 2021

By Charlie V. Manalo | Manila Standard

"Will the IATF listen?"

As COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the country, former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. is calling on the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases to do away with some of the health protocols deemed questionable while at the same time, batting for the easing of vaccine procurement which he said could greatly help the national government in achieving herd immunity the soonest possible time.

Marcos called on the IATF to reconsider its decision for the mandatory use of face shields outside of the residence saying its mandatory use is not supported or endorsed by international health organizations and mental health advocates.

Wearing of face mask and face shields while in public places, particularly inside malls and similar business establishments, is required as part of the health protocols imposed by the task force in a bid to stem the further spread of COVID-19 virus.

Marcos said that while experts insist face shields can protect an individual from droplets of biological fluid which could contain viruses while engaging in a talk with another individual, the very feature of a face shield which is open on the top, sides, and bottom defeats its very purpose.

“Evidently it is only in our country where the use of face shields is being made compulsory,” Marcos, or BBM to his supporters, noted.

The former senator also sounded off an alarm on the ecological implications of adding more single-use plastics into the country’s worsening waste pollution problem.

He said that the safe disposal of medical wastes during the pandemic is another pressing problem confronting the LGUs garbage collection and management which is being stymied by community quarantine restrictions.

Marcos explained that even advocates from Greenpeace, a non-governmental organization that advocates for environment protection, are working with local executives to promote zero waste, through the reduction of usage and sanitary disposal of face masks and face shields, among others.

The former senator said that the “no face mask, no face shield, no entry” policy being implemented in establishments such as malls is severely affecting the retail industry and hindering the gradual recovery of our economy.

At the same time, Marcos, Jr. is calling on the government for the immediate signing and enforcement of the multi-party agreements entered into by the local government units and private entities with the national government to boost the importation of COVID-19 vaccines.

Presently, vaccine procurement is done through a tripartite agreement entered into by the vaccine manufacturer, the government of the country where the vaccine is manufactured, and our government.

Marcos said that the MPAs should be acted upon with urgency and immediately enforced in light of the alarming warning of the World Health Organization that the highly contagious COVID-19 Delta variant now sweeps through the country as the dominant virus strain.

“We need to have more people vaccinated, more so now because the Delta variant is now the driving force behind the recent ballooning of Covid cases across the country. And we could only do that if the MPAs are enforced because it would widen the gateway of incoming vaccine supplies,” Marcos stressed.

Under Republic Act 11525, or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, LGUs and private entities may procure their own vaccine supplies through multi-party agreements with the national government.

The former senator earlier lamented that such agreement appears to have been virtually mothballed despite persistent appeals by the local officials and leaders of the private sector to have the MPAs signed by their counterpart in the national government.

He added that a resolution has been filed in the Senate urging the Committee of the Whole to look into the MPAs which have reportedly been submitted to the national government but remained unsigned by its representatives.”

Marcos avers that LGUs have already proven they are very much ready and are capable of handling the vaccination rollout, but the lack of vaccine supplies hinders the rollout being conducted at the local level.

Actually, the vaccination can even be handled at the barangay level to speed up the rollout. Early last week, testing czar Vince Dizon said the government failed to achieve its target of 500,000 jabs administered daily due to lack of personnel.

However, tapping the country’s more than 40,000 barangays, each with its own barangay health emergency response teams, even two million individuals can easily be inoculated daily.

Amid the controversy surrounding the government’s pandemic response, and the inefficiency of some of the officials tasked with supposedly protecting us from this dreaded virus, it’s rather comforting to hear someone like BBM airing our legitimate concerns. Just hoping these officials from the IATF would lend him an ear.