By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: One News

"Harry is okay, but sometimes, his mouth runs faster than his brain...instead of trying to look for ways to help out, he is blaming us. What kind of person are you?"

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry Treñas posed this question to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque after the latter blamed Ilonggos for the surge of COVID-19 cases.

In a television interview, Treñas has called on the government to provide COVID-19 medical equipment in order to avoid overwhelming the city’s healthcare capacity.

"That's why I am asking for equipment. When are they going to prioritize Iloilo? What hurts is that with cases rising, we're still the ones at fault. What is that? It isn't right,” he said.

In a press briefing on Monday, Roque said people violating minimum health and safety standards should be attributed to the surge of infections.

“I can assure Mayor Treñas that, unfortunately, pagdating po sa pagtaas ng kaso, ang solusyon po talaga ay ‘Mask, Hugas, Iwas’ at kabahagi po ng solusyon ay bakuna,” he said.

“Pero ang dahilan po talaga ng paglobo, yung kakulangan sa ‘Mask, Hugas, at Iwas.’ ‘Yan na po ay established fact. At tsaka yung mga new variants po,” Roque added.

Moreover, Treñas lamented low vaccine supplies. He said only 66,000 vaccine doses have been augmented in the city, contrary to the Department of Health’s (DOH) report of 84,000 doses allotted.

"I'm sorry, [DOH Undersecretary] Vergeire, but it was only 66,000. I don't know and I do not have any knowledge where the 17,000 doses went. I wrote to [DOH Western Visayas director Emilia] Monicimpo, but I didn't get an answer," the local executive said.

Vice President Leni Robredo, lawmakers, and local officials have been urging the government to deploy more vaccine supplies in areas outside “NCR + 8” Bubble — consists of Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Pampanga, Batangas, Metro Cebu, and Metro Davao — having a rise in infections due to COVID-19.

Treñas said cities in the National Capital Region (NCR) are receiving more vaccines than other cities outside the nation’s capital.

"We're a region of about eight million people. Quezon City is a city of three million people. They've already been given already 600,000...we were give just 300,000. What is equitable about that?" the mayor said. 

"I am as Filipino as [Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte], and I am as dedicated to my work as her,” he added.

To date, the country has received 14,205,870 doses. By the numbers, 9,000,000 doses from Sinovac Biotech, 2,556,000 doses from British firm AstraZeneca, 2,469,870 doses from Pfizer, and 180,000 doses from Russia’s Gamaleya Institute.

As of Tuesday, June 22, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,367,894 total coronavirus infections, 1,291,389 recoveries, and 23,809 deaths.

Meanwhile, as of June 21, 8,222,759 COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the country of which 6,102,625 individuals have received the first dose while 2,120,134 individuals have completed two doses.