CRY FOR HELP: Iloilo biz, health sectors appeal for vaccines, medical aid as cases surge

The business and medical sectors in Iloilo are seeking help from the national government by sending more vaccines and medical supplies, equipment, and fund. (Arnold Almacen photo)

The local business sector, including healthcare workers, urgently appealed to the national government for additional vaccine allocation and medical assistance for Iloilo City and province as COVID-19 cases in the region continue to rise.

Four business groups in Iloilo drafted letters addressed to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) requesting for additional vaccines for the city and province.

In a letter addressed to Health secretary Francisco Duque III and IATF chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., the Iloilo Business Club (IBC) appealed for the city and province to be included in the national government’s priority vaccination areas.

“We appeal that Iloilo City and province be among the national government’s priority areas for vaccine allocation. This public health situation directly impacts our local economy, and the business sector is suffering from the effects of strict quarantine protocols.”

This was echoed by the Iloilo Economic Development (ILED) Foundation Inc. through a letter signed by its chairman Engr. Terence Uygongco and president Angel De Leon Jr. who highlighted how the recent surge of positive cases may result to greater economic fallout.

“(The) Virus is still spreading in many barangays and establishments. This means greater economic fallout, more school closures, more healthcare disruptions and threatening the futures of families everywhere. While we have started our vaccination activities, there is urgent need to prioritize more deliveries of vaccines for the city and province, given the recent surge of positive cases.”

According to the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industries (PCCI)-Iloilo Chapter Inc., the provincial and the city government have the necessary capabilities to handle the inoculation.

“Both our provincial and city governments have the necessary logistical and manpower capabilities to handle the inoculations as soon as the vaccines are available. As Iloilo City and Iloilo province serve as the center of economic and political activities in the region, their critical roles in balancing the health and economic well-being in the region cannot be overemphasized.”

The Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce of Iloilo, Inc. (FCCCII) also shared the same sentiments.

The urgent appeal of the four business groups was also re-echoed by frontliners in Panay particularly Philippine College of Physicians Western Visayas Panay Chapter.

In their letter also addressed to the officials of IATF on Tuesday, June 15, the group made an urgent plea for medical assistance and vaccine allocation for Iloilo City and Iloilo province due to the current situation of the hospitals and healthcare facilities.

“We internists and frontliners have clearly visualized and evaluated the current situation among our hospitals and healthcare facilities. Quality patient care has become compromised due to lack of medical supplies, manpower and funds.”

The group specifically appealed for urgent allocation of more vaccines; PhilHealth insurance to all hospitals; medical supplies/equipment such as ventilators and high flow nasal cannula; medications such as Remdesivir; provision of more hospital personnel.

Mayor Jerry Treñas also made the same appeal as he stressed that the city has been left out in vaccine allocation.

“We felt so left out. The cases are rising in the region, and we are experiencing a surge. We are pleading for help. We ask for them to understand our situation. We hope to be part of the priority of vaccine allocations as people in the region are dying almost every day,” he said on Tuesday.

Both Iloilo City and province are under the modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) until June 30 following the announcement of President Rodrigo Duterte Monday night.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque reported that the national government is closely monitoring the COVID-19 situation in Western Visayas as the region’s healthcare utilization rate increased by 6% in the past week.



Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon appealed for more vaccines for Iloilo City amid the renewed surge in COVID-19 cases in the city and some parts of the Western Visayas.

Vaccine czar Sec. Carlito Galvez Jr. assured Drilon that they will deploy more COVID-19 vaccines in Iloilo City and the Western Visayas to prevent the further spread of the virus.

During the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing on Tuesday, Galvez committed to expedite the delivery of additional 27,700 doses of vaccines – 16,700 doses of Sinovac and 11,000 doses of Pfizer.

The government has also allocated 35,100 doses of Pfizer to Region 6, according to Drilon, citing Galvez’s assurance.

During the surge, the government deployed 290,254 doses of vaccines in Western Visayas, including 80,000 doses of AstraZeneca and 210,254 doses of Sinovac, Galvez added.

The government had previously deployed 505,240 doses of vaccines in Region 6.

Drilon said he is extremely worried about the situation in the city and the rising cases in the whole of Western Visayas.

“Salamat po sa inyong tulong sa aking mga kasimanwa. They are fearful that there will be no vaccines coming to them. This assurance will ease their worries,” Drilon said.

Drilon said he is confident that Iloilo City and the rest of Western Visayas will be able to curb the spread of the virus.

“I have confidence in the ability of our local chief executives in Iloilo to prevent the further spread of the virus. We will overcome this together,” Drilon said in a statement.

Lastly, Drilon encouraged his kasimanwas to get vaccinated.

“There is no better and more effective way to protect yourself and your family against COVID-19 than to get vaccinated. The best vaccine is the ones available, so register now and get vaccinated,” Drilon said. (ERS)