MANILA — Malacañang on Thursday blamed fake news spreaders for the long queues at several COVID-19 vaccination hubs in Metro Manila on the eve of its 2-week lockdown, an incident that reportedly violated pandemic protocols.
Palace spokesman Harry Roque said the government has not banned unvaccinated individuals from going outside their homes—a concern that some of those who trooped to inoculation sites had cited.
He also denied that unvaccinated people would not be entitled to government's cash aid during the Aug. 6 to 20 enhanced community quarantine of Metro Manila.
"Tingin ko may mga nagpapakalat talaga ng fake news. Meron po talagang walang matinong ginagawa sa buhay nila," Roque said in a press briefing.
"Ewan ko ba kung bakit hindi pa sila ma-COVID," added the Palace spokesman, who caught the novel coronavirus twice this year.
(I think some are spreading fake news. There are people who have done no good in their lives. I don't know why they're just not infected with COVID.)
The inoculation mess erupted about a week after President Rodrigo Duterte said barangay officials should bar unvaccinated people from going outside their houses—even if the country's supply of COVID-19 shots remains insufficient.
Asked if the vaccine chaos could be traced to government messaging, Roque said, "I don't think so."
"Ang kumpirmado po meron talagang fake news na kumalat. As to whether siraulo lang ito o deliberate para guluhin ang ating bayan, your guess is as good as mine. Pero meron talagang mga loko-loko,"
(What is confirmed is that fake news spread. As to whether this was from crazy people or it was a deliberate move to disrupt our nation, your guess is as good as mine. But there really are fools.)
He reminded local governments they have an "obligation" to prevent vaccination overcrowding, which he said was "inhumane."
"Sapat po ang ating resources para magpatupad ng minimum health standards at ang hindi po pagpapatupad n’yan ay isang klase ng dereliction of duty ng ating mga lokal na opisyales," Roque said.
(Our resources are enough to implement minimum health standards and failure to do that is a type of dereliction of duty on the part of our local officials.)
"Nananawagan po kami, kinakailangan ipatupad ang minimum health standards. Otherwise ‘yong ating bakunahan na ang objective ay makasalba ng buhay, baka ‘yan pa ang maging dahilan ng pagkakasakit at pagkakamatay," he continued.
(We appeal that our minimum health standards should be enforced. Otherwise, our vaccination, the objective of which is to save lives, might be the reason for disease and death.)
The Philippines has so far fully vaccinated some 10 million people against the novel coronavirus. Government aims to immunize up to 70 million people this year to achieve herd immunity and safely reopen the economy.