Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Wednesday joined his colleagues in slamming a proposed policy barring unvaccinated members of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4P) from receiving cash grants from the government.
Go, chair of the Senate Health Committee called the “no vaccine, no subsidy” policy unfair, noting that Filipinos should not be forced to get immunized against the coronavirus for them to receive government assistance.
“That is unfair. No one should be forced. Let us just give incentives to those who will get vaccinated voluntarily,” the Senator said in an ambush interview after the distribution of assistance to residents of Antipolo City in Rizal on Tuesday.
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), over the weekend, said it is mulling to “disincentivize” 4P recipients who would refuse inoculation following reports from mayors that “many” of the beneficiaries of the antipoverty program are yet to be inoculated.
This earned the ire of senators, including Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon who described the proposal as “absolutely unacceptable, inhuman and callous”.
Go, for his part, said the government should step up its information drive about the benefits of Covid-19 vaccination to encourage more people. Forcing it violates the rights of an individual, he said.
“They should be informed and encouraged to have their vaccine shots by giving them incentives — like they can enter restaurants, they can go out or watch movies. They should not be forced,” Go said. “It is still one’s right if they want to be vaccinated or not.”
“We will not stop in giving incentives and encouraging people to have their vaccines, especially the 4P. These are indigents and it is important to make them understand how vital it is to be protected from the virus,” he added.
4P is a poverty alleviation program of the national government that provides conditional cash grants to the poorest of the poor.