Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte. (File photo by NIÑO JESUS ORBETA / Philippine Daily Inquirer)
MANILA, Philippines — The Quezon City government has decided to terminate its contract with Zuellig Pharma Corp., the firm behind the eZConsult virtual care network after users experienced frequent glitches in booking a COVID-19 vaccination slot.
The last straw was on Tuesday afternoon when the system crashed for the ninth time, making users wait for hours to book a slot.
"We have already given Zuellig ample time to improve their system upon their request and yet their system has crashed again for the ninth time. We don't want to cause undue stress to our constituents who only want to register for vaccination," Mayor Joy Belmonte said in a statement issued on Tuesday.
The city government recently issued an ultimatum to Zuellig for them to improve their system.
Belmonte said the firm had reported an upgrade of their system, which supposedly could accommodate up to 50,000 users at a time, but the system crashed again when the government opened new slots.
"Instead of speeding up, the registration process became slower. What's sad is that it's the people who are suffering, and it wasted the efforts of our medical frontliners and volunteers, who have been sacrificing to for several months to speed up the vaccination process," Bellmonete said in Filipino.
Belmonte said the city government would file civil and criminal charges against the firm.
"We are filing appropriate charges against them through our Legal Department. We are doing this for the interest of our QCitizens and to protect their rights," she said.
According to city attorney Orlando Casimiro, Zuellig breached its contractual obligations to the city for failing to deliver on its commitment to improve its service.
"The Information Technology portion of the Service Agreement with the city government will be terminated and damages will be claimed against Zuellig because of the delays, inconvenience, and frustration that our QCitizens have experienced," Casimiro said in a statement.
Under the agreement, Zuellig is liable to pay liquidated damages amounting to one-tenth of one percent of the contract price for every day of delay until the project is completed, according to the city government.
It added that EzConsult reported several technical difficulties beginning March 27 this year that delayed the vaccination of city residents.
Belmonte urged residents experiencing difficulties registering on the EzConsult website to instead register at the city government-assisted QC Vax Easy portal.
Those who were able to book a slot for July 1 to 3 and July 5 to 6 are advised to proceed to the vaccination site of their choice as scheduled.
Until the contract termination has been finalized, all ongoing bookings are valid, the city statement said.
Those scheduled for the second dose should also follow the date indicated in their card and have their vaccination at the same site where they had their first dose.
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