The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Friday reminded local government units (LGUs) that a voter’s identification card was neither a requirement to avail oneself of essential services, like medical services and financial assistance, nor was it needed to register for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccination program.
"It is not and will never be a requirement set by the national government nor the DILG,” DILG Undersecretary and spokesperson Jonathan Malaya said in a statement.
This came after the DILG received reports that some LGUs were requiring the presentation of a voter's ID before people could access government services.
He added that LGUs should not single out the voter's ID as a specific requirement from citizens to get vaccinated or to access and take advantage of their programs and services intended for the benefit of the people.
In other developments:
• The bulk of the latest delivery of 728,910 Pfizer vaccine doses will be allotted for distribution to the NCR, major cities in Luzon and the southern cities of Cebu and Davao, National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Thursday.
• Private medical cold-chain firm Pharmaserv Express Inc. on Friday assured its facility is ready for the influx of highly sensitive COVID-19 vaccines in the coming days as it can store millions of doses at any given time.
• The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has allowed the interzonal and intrazonal movement of Solidarity Trial Vaccines Team, Malacañang said Friday.
• Novavax Inc. and its partner Serum Institute of India have applied to the WHO for an emergency use listing of Novavax's COVID-19 vaccine, potentially clearing the way for the shot to ship to many poorer countries, the company said on Thursday. (See full story online at manilastandard.net)
Aside from the voter's ID, Malaya said other government IDs might be presented by the citizens as proof of identity or that they were residents within the LGU jurisdiction.
He said in a usual transaction, especially in times when beneficiaries were requested to provide proof of identity, they were given options of what ID to present which could range from the Philippine passport, employment ID, and PhilHealth ID, among others, depending on their purpose.
"Having no voter's ID does not make one a second-class citizen. We should never discriminate against those who cannot present their voter's ID nor deprive them of the essential services that they deserve," Malaya said.
He said LGUs should bear in mind that "it is the people's money in the form of taxes that they are using to deliver such services."
"It is therefore rightful to give back to the people and serve them, regardless of if they are registered voters of the locality or not," he added.
Meanwhile, Philippine National Police Chief Gen. Guillermo Eleazar has ordered all police officers to ensure that health protocols are being observed in voter registration sites, less than a week before the Sept. 30 deadline.
This came in response to reports of crowded voter registration sites and that those who flocked the registration venues were greeted with long lines and hours of waiting.
Meanwhile, the bulk of the latest delivery of 728,910 Pfizer vaccine doses will be allotted for distribution to the National Capital Region, major cities in Luzon and the southern cities of Cebu and Davao, National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said Thursday night.
Galvez, who personally welcomed the arrival of the US-made vaccine at the NAIA in Pasay City, said about 51,480 would be unloaded in Cebu City and 92,430 to be flown to Davao City Friday.
“So, we are targeting Manila, Metro Cebu and Davao. They will have a threshold of at least 80 percent [of the eligible population vaccinated] before the end of October. That’s why we’re giving them supplies,” Galvez said.
Aside from the three urban areas in Luzon, the Visayas and Mindanao, he said the government’s vaccination program also focused on Regions 4-A (Calabarzon) and 3 (Central Luzon) due to their proximity to the NCR.
“We will now consider NCR and Region 4-A and Region 3 as one geographic location. Because we can see their economic activity, we can’t separate them,” Galvez said.
By the end of November, the vaccination rate in the major cities of Regions 4-A and 3 will be at par with NCR, Metro Cebu and Metro Davao, he said.
So far, around 11 million Pfizer doses have been delivered to the country and more are expected to arrive in October either as procurement or donations from the COVAX Facility and the US, Galvez said.
The Philippines will receive more of the life-saving shots from the US government as part of the 500 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines that US President Joe Biden promised to low and medium-income countries, Galvez said.
In related developments, private medical cold-chain firm Pharmaserv Express Inc. gave assurances Friday its facility was ready for the influx of highly sensitive COVID-19 vaccines in the coming days as it can store millions of doses at any given time.
"We are confident we can store around 40 to 50 million doses of any brand of vaccines," said Pharmaserv warehouse manager Abigail Revilla.
The Department of Health tapped Pharmaserv as its third party cold-chain facility and logistics partner in the government's inoculation program.
The facility in Marikina City, according to Revilla, has the capability to accept vaccines that need different storage temperature requirements, from China's Sinovac and United Kingdom's AstraZeneca’s positive 2 to 8 degrees to the negative 18 degrees Celsius required by Gamaleya (Russia), and even the negative 80 to negative 25 degrees Celsius temperature requirement of Moderna and Pfizer, both from the United States.
Revilla also assured that the firm had not recorded any case of vaccine wastage.
The firm uses a biothermal case system in packaging the vaccines for safe delivery to various local government units, she added.
Meanwhile, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has allowed the interzonal and intrazonal movement of Solidarity Trial Vaccines Team, Malacañang said.
The IATF-EID gave its approval amid the Philippines’ participation in the World Health Organization Solidarity Trial for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
“The IATF approved the inclusion of all researchers, workers, members and affiliate staff of the Solidarity Trial Vaccines Team as healthcare workers and as such, shall be allowed interzonal and intrazonal movement regardless of community quarantine classification and imposition of granular lockdowns,” Roque said in a press statement.
Roque said target participants and eligible patients who reside in areas under granular lockdowns may be allowed to leave their residences for purposes necessary for clinical trials.
However, they are not allowed to leave the area under granular lockdown, Roque added.
Roque said the IATF-EID also reactivated a small technical working group that would propose refinements or amendments to the uniform travel protocols for land, air, and sea.
“The STWG shall further work on the harmonization of documentary requirements across all local government units and interoperability of available applications, such as StaySafe.PH, S-PaSS, VaxCert, [and] Traze,” Roque said.