The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has reclassified local chief executives (LCEs) as "essential workers" and will be included in the priority groups to be vaccinated against COVID-19.
This was revealed by DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing to Bacolod City Mayor Bing Leonardia following the mayor's appeal to prioritize heads of local governments in the country's national vaccine program.
"We salute Undersecretary Densing for the very quick response because it was only last Saturday [Mar. 13], during his visit to Bacolod, when I, as the National President of the League of Cities of the Philippines, appealed for him to elevate this matter to the IATF," Leonardia said.
The move will reclassify 1,634 provincial governors and city and municipal mayors and 42,046 barangay captains all over the country to Category A4 or "frontline personnel in essential sectors including uniformed personnel and those in working sectors identified by the IATF as essential during ECQ" of the Interim National Immunization Technical Advisory Group (iNITAG).
Other priority recipients of the vaccines include frontline workers in health facilities (Category A1); senior citizens aged 60 years old and above (Category A2); persons with comorbidities not included in the preceding categories (Category A3); and the indigent not included in the preceding categories (Category A5).
According to Leonardia, local chief executives are also frontliners in the fight against the ongoing pandemic.
The mayor added: "The risks of exposure that we encounter on a day-to-day basis as we continue to serve our constituents is also very high. This development will surely inspire and encourage our local government leaders to even work harder and more effectively in the implementation of our COVID programs, especially now that we are accelerating our efforts to vaccinate as many of our people, given the surge in cases in many areas in the country in recent weeks."