Manila mayoral aspirant hits city zoo renovation

Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 24 2022 03:15 PM

Health workers from the Manila Health Department (MHD) administer COVID-19 vaccine on minors and senior citizens at the newly renovated Manila Zoo on January 19, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Health workers from the Manila Health Department (MHD) administer COVID-19 vaccine on minors and senior citizens at the newly renovated Manila Zoo on January 19, 2022. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

Manila mayoral aspirant Alex Lopez criticized the local government's decision to renovate the famous city zoo and use it for COVID-19 vaccination.

In an online press conference on Sunday, Lopez said he believes the zoo's renovation, which cost P1.7 billion, is "untimely."

"Budget po ng tatlong probinsiya 'yan. Eh sino ba ang pupunta sa zoo ngayon?" said Lopez.

(The P1.7 billion is already a budget for three provinces. And who would go to the zoo right now anyway?)

Earlier this month, Manila Zoo reopened to the public after nearly three years of closure for supposedly polluting Manila Bay.

The 5-hectare facility is also being used as a COVID-19 vaccination site, which Lopez considered unsanitary.

"Ang zoo ay maraming mikrobyo diyan. You don’t have to be a genius, just go to Google. You will see several animal-borne diseases coming from the zoo," he said.

(There are lots of germs in zoos. You don't have to be a genius, just Google it. You will several animal-borne diseases coming from the zoo.)

The city government should conduct COVID-19 vaccination in nearby hospitals and barangay facilities near the zoo if they wanted to attract visitors following their inoculation, Lopez said.

"Para gawing vaccination area ang zoo? Napakamali. Ang daming health center."

(But to turn a zoo into a vaccination area? That's very wrong. There are so many health centers.)

Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna denied it is unsanitary to hold vaccination at the zoo.

“Sabi ko nga, ayaw ko nang mag-react diyan eh kasi di naman gagawing vaccination site 'yan kung hindi po yan safe,” Lacuna, a physician, said in an interview Monday.

(I wasn't going to react to that claim because the Manila Zoo wouldn't have been turned into a vaccination site if it weren't safe.)

She said the decision to use Manila Zoo as a vaccination site is based on a study.

“At ang mga nagbabakuna po doon, puro mga doktor. Pinag-aralan muna po 'yan. Ang ibig sabihin lang po niyan.. yung mga hayop, mga animals po na nandoon, alagang-alaga po iyan eh. 'Di po natin isasaalang-alang yung health condition ng tao," said Lacuna.

"Isang paraan 'yun para mahikayat din natin sila na makapamasyal kasama ang pamilya,” she added.

(It will be doctors who will administer vaccines. It was studied properly. The animals there are also properly taken care of. We are not going to compromise the health condition of the people. It's also a way of encouraging vaccine recipients to stroll around the place with their family.)

Manila Mayor and presidential aspirant Isko Moreno Domagoso did not comment on Lopez' claim.

Lopez is running for Manila mayor in this year’s election under Partido Federal ng Pilipinas. His running-mate is actor Raymond Bagatsing, who is under Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL).

Lacuna is also eyeing the mayoralty post under (Asenso Manileño Movement or ASENSO/ Aksyon Demokratiko). The other contenders include Amado Bagatsing (Kabalikat ng Bayan Sa Kaunlaran or KABAKA), Onofre Abad (Independent), Elmer Jamias (People’s Reform Party or PRP), and Christy Lim (Partido para sa Demokratikong Reporma).

POLITICAL RIVALS

When asked if he is bothered that his running mate and and an opponent share the same surname, Lopez said it was not a conflict.

“Ang nakikita ko pong opponent ay si Vice Mayor Lacuna,” he said.

(Vice Mayor Lacuna is the one whom I consider an opponent.)

If he wins, Lopez vows he will “empower” fish vendors in Tondo district by changing the “outlook” toward them.

"One of the first things we will do is to enact ordinances to repeal fish vendors, na nakakagambala sila sa traffic at pedestrian. Siguro it is about time that we look at them as partners in city building, nation building," he said, adding that he would also build a fish market.

(One of the first things we will do is to enact ordinances to correct the view that fish vendors cause traffic problems. Perhaps it is about time that we look at them as partners in city-buidling, nation-building.)

He also plans to change zoning ordinances.

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