Feb 10, 2021 @ 18:19

Baka ma-ambush pa! Panelo slams NPA for suggesting Red Cross as transporter of COVID-19 vaccines

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Wednesday emphasized the need for military participation in the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines in far-flung areas, stressing how communist rebels could easily ambush volunteers from humanitarian groups.

The Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) earlier vowed not to hamper the delivery of vaccine supply following President Rodrigo Duterte’s appeal but urged the government to allow humanitarian organizations like the Red Cross to handle vaccination instead.

However, Panelo warned that allowing humanitarian groups to lead vaccine delivery in far-flung areas could put their lives at risk.

“Tinuruan mo pa ang pamahalaan? Yung mga military vehicles mga truck, malalaki, o mas konbinyente at the same time buti na ‘yang military para may nagbabantay. Mamaya Red Cross ‘yan, mamaya inambush niyo pa o pinigilan niyo pa (Do you have to teach the government what to do? Military vehicles are mostly trucks, big vehicles, so it’s more convenient and at the same time it’s better for the military so there’s someone to stand guard. Rebels could ambush or prevent the Red Cross from delivering vaccines),” he said in his commentary show Counterpoint.

Panelo said newly-appointed Armed Forces of the Philippines chief-of-staff Cirilito Sobejana himself already vowed to help the Department of Health (DOH) in the delivery of Covid-19 vaccines.

“Kaya ang military nag-o-offer na nga na ‘Ah kaming bahala diyan, kami tutulong diyan’. Sabi ni AFP chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana…na considering daw yung strategic deployment sila daw po’y tutulong sa DOH pag-roll out ng bakuna (That’s why the military offered ‘We’ll do it, we’ll help. AFP chief-of-staff Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said that considering the strategic deployment, they’ll help DOH in the vaccine rollout),” he said.

He said personnel of the AFP would be the best people for the job because of their land, sea, and air assets.

“Pati na yung mga sasakyan nila whether ito’y sa lupa, sa itaas, sa himpapawid, sa dagat, talagang tutulong po sila (Even the vehicles whether they’re on land, air, sea, they’re really going to help),” he said.

Last Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque shrugged off the CPP’s call, saying the national government is sticking with its original plan to make the AFP in charge of vaccine delivery in far-flung areas.

“We have a rollout plan. ‘Yun po ang masusunod kahit anong sabihin pa ng CPP-NPA (That’s what we’re going to follow regardless of what the CPP-NPA (New People’s Army) says),” he said.

He acknowledged that the CPP-NPA has freedom of speech, but noted that the government could not ignore the fact that they are tagged as a terrorist group.

In a taped speech aired late Monday night, Duterte called on the CPP and its armed wing, the NPA, to allow the unhampered transport of the Covid-19 vaccine across the country starting this month.

“I am appealing to the Communist Party of the Philippines. The CPP must guarantee that the vaccines in the course of being transported to areas where there are no city health officers or medical persons, na ‘wag ninyo galawin ang medisina (don’t touch the medicine), allow the vaccines to be transported freely and safely,” Duterte said

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