Building of Nayong Pilipino jab site to start after agreement
MANILA, Philippines — The construction of a mega vaccination site on the 15-hectare Nayong Pilipino property may begin as soon as the Department of Health signs the memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the private contractor of billionaire Enrique Razon, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.
Nograles also said President Rodrigo Duterte has accepted the resignation of Nayong Pilpino Foundation (NPF) executive director Lucille Karen Malilong-Isberto, who said that among the reasons she left the board was being pressured by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
But an NPF source on Thursday said that the President had not appointed Isberto’s replacement yet.
In a television interview, also Thursday, Nograles said the vaccination site would push through, after Razon’s proposal was vetted by government agencies, including the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, to put up what officials described as a “modular, temporary” facility.
Environmental and heritage groups have raised the alarm over the site development that might have to cut down 450 trees on a site they considered an urban forest in Parañaque City.
“If [the agreement] is signed like today or tomorrow … They can already begin (the construction) as soon as that’s signed,” Nograles said.
Business tycoon Razon in the same television program said, “there are no real trees there. It’s [tall grass] and ‘ipil-ipil.’ These are weeds that grow everywhere.”
Nograles said the MOA only required “very few, minor technical edits.”
During a vaccination rollout at the Makati Medical Center, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said he was just waiting for “legal clearance” from the Office of the Government Corporate Counsel (OGCC) to convert the site into a huge vaccination site that could handle 12,000 people daily.
Malilong-Isberto on May 6 wrote OGCC Director Elpidio Vega to raise legal concerns, one of them was the possibility of being charged with technical malversation should the NPF allow a private entity free use of the land.
Malilong-Isberto said an OGCC review was required before the NPF entered into any contract, but the NPF board may or may not concur with the OGCC opinion.
“Why blame me for the delay? They’re the ones who knew when the vaccines are coming, they should have planned better? Why are they rushing [now]?” said Malilong-Isberto, who added that the NPF only wanted to follow the process.
Razon said he was willing to spend P250 million to construct the vaccination facility.
The NPF source said there were at least two attempts last week by Razon’s contractor to enter the property.
“I’m glad she did. She should resign. She is peddling lies all over social media. I don’t know what her motives are,” Razon said of Malilong-Isberto’s resignation.