The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Sunday pledged to commit at least 245 armed personnel and to help in the mobilization of vaccines during the three-day national COVID-19 vaccination drive from November 29 to December 1.
In an interview on Super Radyo dzBB on Sunday, AFP spokesperson Army Colonel Ramon Zagala said that new AFP chief Lieutenant General Andres Centino gave this directive for the “Bayanihan, Bakunahan” program, which is targeting to inoculate 15 million individuals against COVID-19. President Rodrigo Duterte announced the vaccination drive last week.
“Meron tayong more or less 49 teams na trained ng DOH. Itong mga teams na ito ay between five to 9 personnel [We have more or less 49 teams trained by the Department of Health. These teams have five to nine personnel], consisting of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, nurse attendants, and administrative and coders for registration,” he said.
Zagala explained that these volunteers will be deployed to 37 locations across the country to assist and help fast-track the vaccination as the year comes to an end.
“So kapag mag-coordinate na sa ating mga unified commands, itong mga teams na ‘to will be made available sa mga priority or high-risk areas na ma-identify ng regional units ng DOH kung saan kailangan mag-vaccinate,” he added.
(Once coordinated with the unified commands, these teams will be deployed to priority or high-risk areas identified by DOH’s regional units where we need to vaccinate.)
The AFP will also aid in the mobilization of vaccines and DOH personnel in geographically isolated and depressed areas.
“Meron po tayong various capabilities na kayang gawin ito katulad ng ating mga helicopters, meron din tayong mga seacraft na pwedeng gawin sa mobility na ito na madala ang mga vaccines,” Zabala said.
(We have various capabilities that can make this possible such as our helicopters and seacraft that can help mobilize the vaccines.)
Asked why the AFP troops need to be armed when conducting the vaccination program, Zabala said that they need to protect the public and secure their teams, especially in specific areas.
“Beyond the arms is their capability to do something different amongst military men which is really to be able to help in vaccination,” he added. — Giselle Ombay/BM, GMA News