Megavaccine site opposed

MANILA, Philippines — At least 30 civil society organizations had so far taken a stand against the planned megavaccine center in the Nayong Pilipino Complex in Parañaque City, as the proposed project “manipulates people into a false choice that pits people’s health against nature.”

In their joint statement on Wednesday, the group questioned the necessity to cut 500 trees for the facility, with its proponents arguing that “protecting 500 trees should not equate to protecting people’s lives.”

“The question decision-makers need to be asking is not whether we should build the megavaccine center and cut the trees. The question is whether this is the kind of facility the country needs to make the vaccine accessible to more people,” the groups said in their statement.

On Thursday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the planned megavaccination site at the historical area will push through, and will be constructed by the ICTSI Foundation led by Enrique Razon Jr.

The organizations urged President Rodrigo Duterte, Razon, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, and the Department of Tourism to drop their “ill-advised” plan to build a vaccination facility in a reclaimed and forested land.

Instead, the groups said the government should “focus on long-term and people-centered solutions to the health crisis,” such as improving local vaccination facilities.

“Vaccine facilities are best located where they can be accessed by people from all sectors. With the lack of safe and efficient public transportation, building a centralized vaccination facility at the Entertainment City will put marginalized communities, such as the poor, (persons with disabilities) and senior citizens at a disadvantage,” said the groups.

They also called for “nature-based solutions” to prevent future pandemics and promote resilience.