Andanar pushes for inclusion of media workers in COVID-19 vaccine priority list


MANILA, Jan. 27 — Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar stressed the need for media workers to be prioritized in the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine once it is available.

In a virtual interview on RMN DYZL Manila on Wednesday, Secretary Andanar, who is a staunch supporter of media workers’ welfare, said that they should be considered as frontliners.

“Frontliners ‘yan. Kahit anong mangyari, ang media ay araw-araw nand’yan nagbabalita, at kailangan ng kababayan natin na mayroong nagsasalita na nagsasabi sa kanila kung ano’ng gagawin [They are frontliners. No matter what happens, the media is always there reporting the news every day, and the people need the media to tell them what to do],” he said.

As previously announced, the first batch of vaccines is expected to arrive in the Philippines in the third or fourth week of February. The government will prioritize the medical and government frontliners, poor families, and the vulnerable sectors for the vaccine.

According to a survey conducted by Pulse Asia, 47% of Filipinos are unwilling to be inoculated due to safety concerns. That is why the government is already addressing this through information drives.

Secretary Andanar said it is a challenge for the government to reverse the sentiments of Filipinos on the safety of the vaccines.

“Talagang kailangan natin mabaliktad ‘yung 47% na ‘yun sapagkat ayon kay Presidente [Duterte] ay kailangan talagang mabakunahan ang ating mga kababayan para tayo ay magkaroon ng isang lipunan na puwede na ulit mangarap at puwedeng makipag-compete sa ibang ekonomiya [We really have to convert those 47% because as what the President said, we really need to vaccinate the people so that we can have a society, where we can dream again and can compete with other economies],” he said, as he noted that this will also usher the recovery of the economy by allowing pre-COVID-19 programs and projects to push through.

The PCOO, together with the Philippine Information Agency (PIA), recently launched the Explain, Explain, Explain Town Hall Meeting, informing local government units (LGUs) and the public about the processes undertaken by the government to implement its National COVID-19 Vaccine Roadmap.

“Lahat ng ahensya ng gobyerno ay katuwang natin sa pag-disseminate ng mga balita patungkol dito sa vaccine. Kailangan kasing malaman ng mga kababayan natin ang bawat stage ng plano ni Secretary Galvez. Hindi naman tayo lalabas lang doon at bibili ng vaccine [All the agencies of the government are our partners in disseminating news about the vaccine. We have to inform the people about the stages of the plan presented by Secretary Galvez, because we don’t just go out there and buy the vaccine],” he said.

“This vaccination program is the largest vaccination program that the government will undertake, not only in the Philippines, but in the entire world,” he added.

He also bared to volunteer to be one of the first in line for the vaccination along with other government executive heads to allay any fears associated with its safety.

“Ako ay willing naman na sumama dun sa mga mauuna, para naman kada labas natin habang nangangampanya tayo para sa bakuna ay mayroon tayong maitatawag na ‘walking the talk’ [I am willing to join those who will be first in line, so that whenever we go out to campaign for the vaccine, we can say that we are ‘walking the talk’],” he said. (PCOO)