The Youth Cluster of The Climate Reality Project Philippines supports a faster pace of vaccination in our country, ensuring that every Filipino has fair access to safe and effective vaccines. As the Philippines and majority of the world continue to suffer from the COVID-19 pandemic, this key solution must be a priority. Building a centralized mega-vaccination facility, however, will not achieve this.

Instead, it will make access to vaccines more difficult, increase vaccine inequity and destroy one of the last remaining green spaces in the metropolis. This facility threatens not only the health and well-being of nearby communities, but also the ecosystem’s thriving biodiversity. We thus urge authorities to hold calculated and strategic planning rather than hastily implementing big projects such as the proposed.

As revealed by a National SWS Survey in November of last year, only 3% of Filipinos travel by car. This means most of the Filipino population belongs to the commuting public, to whom the proposed mega-vaccination center will be practically inaccessible.

Aside from magnifying vaccine inequity, this project would further diminish our already decreasing green spaces that serve as carbon sinks. Our country’s recently submitted Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) towards curbing global carbon emissions includes protecting the integrity of ecosystems—a commitment added upon consultation with the Filipino youth. The expected high-volume activities on Nayong Pilipino’s Healing Forest, such as the construction of additional pavements, roads, and other structures would disrupt its natural ecosystem. 

We echo the suggestions of professional urban planners in using existing paved areas and facilities instead, which are located in more accessible or walkable areas, for our vaccination efforts. We are also one with many civil society organizations (CSOs) in calling for solutions that put first the convenience and safety of our countrymen, especially now that we are anticipating the arrival of more vaccines while the ones we already have are soon to expire before they are used.

With these things in mind, we call on the government to reevaluate this project and make sure that the vaccination plan considers the welfare of all Filipinos. We believe that the national government should instead repurpose existing facilities, such as schools, gymnasiums, parking lots, golf courses, and other spaces across the country to make vaccines more accessible. Finally, we call for proper coordination of all concerned agencies so our country could benefit from a holistic and just pandemic recovery.

Our way out of the global health emergency must not be at the expense of the environment. Truthfully, it is this disregard for the environment that plunged us into this pandemic in the first place. We humans must learn to not only coexist with nature, but to respect nature, for our well-being is so intricately interlinked with it. Indeed, the only real recovery is one that is just and one that is green.