BACOLOD CITY – Mayor Melecio Yap Jr. of Escalante City, Negros Occidental said on Wednesday that he got himself vaccinated ahead of other front-liners as a fulfillment of his duty as the local chief executive.
“For me, it was the call of duty,” Yap said in a telephone interview with Capitol reporters.
He was among those inoculated with Sinovac’s CoronaVac during the rollout of the vaccination program in northern Negros city on March 19.
Yap said that before the rollout began, Dr. Vermont Khan Juvahib, chairman of the local Inter-Agency Task Force and head of the Hospital Management Department, informed him that only 47 individuals, who need two doses each, expressed intent to be vaccinated and therefore, they cannot fully utilize the allocation of 150 vials.
He added that Juvahib then asked if he wants to get vaccinated himself to set an example to the other front-liners since he was also included in the quick substitution list.
“We listed all the city employees as quick replacements just in case they would be needed because once the vaccine has been taken out, it needs to be consumed within certain hours. That’s why I had myself vaccinated,” Yap said.
The vaccine was administered by Dr. Carmelo Arguelles, chief of Vicente Gustilo District Hospital, as shown in the photos posted on the official Facebook page of Escalante City.
Although the mayor admitted that he would rather choose another brand for himself, Yap said he did not experience side effects and felt fine after taking CoronaVac.
At the time of the interview, Yap was not yet included in the list of five mayors ordered by the DILG on Wednesday to explain their inoculation with Covid-19 vaccine, which is a violation of the government’s vaccination priority listing.
“I haven’t received one yet. I have no problem with that, if I will be issued a show-cause order, I will answer it…If I have to go jail, I will go to jail. I’m willing to take any penalty for my action. I do believe that I did not do anything wrong,” he added.
In a radio interview, DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing III said those issued show-cause orders were Alfred Romualdez of Tacloban City, Leyte; Dibu Tuan of T’boli, South Cotabato; Sulpicio Villalobos of Sto. Niño town, South Cotabato; Noel Rosal of Legazpi City, Albay; and Abraham Ibba of Bataraza, Palawan.
They are still verifying reports of other local officials who skipped the vaccination priority queue, he added. (PNA)