THE League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP) expressed its gratitude to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) for approving its request to reclassify local chief executives (LCEs) as Priority Group A1: Workers in Frontline Health Services, specifically under Priority Group A1.5 in the ongoing National Vaccination Program.

Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia, LCP national president, said in a statement that such a move recognizes the important roles of LCEs in the success of the country’s vaccination program.

"We commit to reciprocate the trust and confidence of the IATF to city mayors with more active and responsive vaccination efforts in our respective localities," he said.

On March 29, Leonardia wrote a letter to IATF Chairman and Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque requesting the reclassification of LCEs as priority A1 in the vaccination program.

On April 13, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire maintained the classification of city mayors as Priority A4 or frontline personnel in essential sectors in her letter addressed to Leonardia.

On March 31, Leonardia wrote directly to President Rodrigo Duterte, appealing for the reclassification of LCEs as Priority A1.

In the same letter, he highlighted that such reclassification would be a “win-win strategy” for the country’s fight against Covid-19.

On April 5, the chair of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Operations Center, DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, issued Advisory No. 26, allowing the vaccination of LCEs in high-risk areas.

Leonardia continued to reach out to DILG Undersecretary Epimaco Densing, Secretary Vince Dizon, and Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr., appealing for the inclusion of all city mayors to the A1 category.

He continued to lead by example by visiting vaccination centers and organizing a week-long vaccination operation in his city. All these are designed to drive the point on the critical roles of LCEs in getting the trust of their constituencies to get vaccinated.

On May 15, the chair of the National Covid-19 Vaccination Operations Center, DOH Undersecretary Myrna Cabotaje, issued Advisory No. 40, including local chief executives, governors and mayors, as Head of the Local Health Board and as Chair of the Local Task Force Against Covid-19 in Priority Group A1.

The 146 cities are delighted with this new development and thanked President Rodrigo Duterte and the members of the IATF for their "wisdom and foresight with this decision."