This is the answer given by Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao to someone who offered to pay for the vaccine to bishops and priests. Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila echoed Ongtioco, saying that the poor deserve more attention and care. “Priority should be given to frontliners and vulnerable people rather than priests,” Pabillo said.
Manila (AsiaNews) – The Catholic bishops of Metro Manila declined an offer for free COVID-19 vaccine; instead, they urged that it be given to those who need it most, namely the poor.
Bishop Honesto Ongtioco of Cubao disclosed that someone offered to sponsor vaccines for them and their priests but they decided that help must go first to vulnerable sectors.
“Since we are considered frontliners [. . .] someone offered to sponsor the vaccine for the bishops and priests of the National Capital Region (NCR),” Ongtioco said.
“We are grateful for the offer but we said we would be happy if it were given to the poor first because they have no means to pay,” he said.
Bishop Broderick Pabillo of Manila echoed Ongtioco’s statement, saying the poor deserve more attention and care.
“Priority should be given to frontliners and the vulnerable instead of priests,” Pabillo said.
As far as the archdiocese is concerned, COVID-19 vaccination of priests will be voluntary. “That’s their own decision,” Bishop Pabillo said.
For now, the country is in talks with various pharmaceutical firms about COVID-19 vaccine.
Under the vaccination programme laid out by the Philippine government, priority will be given to medical workers, senior citizens, indigents, and the uniformed personnel.
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines had earlier asked the government to ensure that the vaccination programme was accessible to all.
The bishops also said that vaccines produced must be in line with ethical principles and should be administered respecting each person’s “moral decisions”.