The Metropolitan Manila Development Authority is shelling out P20 million to buy COVID-19 vaccines when available to protect its employees from the deadly disease.
MMDA chairman Danilo Lim said his agency will appropriate funds to ensure the procurement of the vaccines through the help of Philippine International Trading Corporation, an attached agency under the Department of Trade and Industry.
Lim said he is coordinating with PITC President and CEO Dave Almarinez with regards to the funding. Once finalized, the agency will execute an agreement with PITC for the inclusion of MMDA on the procurement of the vaccines worth â‚±20 million.
PITC has been mandated by President Rodridgo Duterte to purchase COVID-19 vaccines from overseas.
“The vaccine will add up to our sustained efforts against COVID-19. Our personnel who are mostly frontliners can be fully secured of their health,” Lim said.
The MMDA chief said each employee can also nominate one member of his/her family to receive vaccination as well.
“Our employees' families are as important as they are to us. We want them to be protected, too,” he said.
MMDA general manager Jose Arturo Garcia Jr likened having vaccinated against COVID-19 to the “matchstick principle.”
“Vaccination can stop the spread of the virus. COVID-19 spread from one person to another but when a person is vaccinated, he is protected from the virus. COVID-19 vaccines can help boost our personnel’s immune system thus decreasing their risk from getting the virus,” Garcia said.
Also, the MMDA COVID-19 Committee, which oversees the implementation of internal guidelines with regard to the prevention of the virus amongst employees, continues to recommend additional safety protocols deemed necessary.
In its fight against COVID-19, the committee conducts regular disinfection on all MMDA offices and strictly implements minimum health protocols among employees and visitors.
The agency had also set up an isolation facility to accommodate employees exposed to persons with COVID-19, tested positive on rapid test, and for those awaiting swab test results.
The MMDA has more than 8,000 employees, with almost eighty percent working in the field on various locations in Metro Manila.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Immigration said 93 of its employees has been infected with the deadly virus, nine of whom have already recovered while the rest are still housed in government-accredited quarantine facilities.
"The good news is that, so far, none of our employees have succumbed to the virus," said BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said.
“We are doing our best in seeing to it that health protocols aimed at preventing the spread of the virus are strictly observed in our offices and workplaces," he added.
Morente said that half of those who contracted the virus are currently assigned at the BI main office in Intramuros, Manila, while the rest are
stationed in other places such as the international airports in Pasay and Cebu, and the bureau's satellite and extension offices in Metro Manila, and elsewhere nationwide.
Morente said the public should not be surprised that some BI employees has been infected by the virus.
"We are one of the few government agencies whose personnel render frontline services, not only in our offices, but in the ports of entry as well. It is unavoidable that some of our employees do come in contact or are exposed to persons who are carriers of this virus," he said.
He said that BI personnel are always exposed to the risk of getting the virus whenever they report for duty since immigration offices and ports of entry are always crowded with people who transact business or are embarking on trips to and from abroad.