Civic group opposes ‘no vax, no subsidy’ policy for 4Ps beneficiaries

November 10, 2021 - 6:23 PM
An elderly woman is photographed by a government worker as she receives cash assistance from the government, after stricter restrictions were imposed amid rising coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, at a basketball court in Tondo, Manila, Philippines, April 12, 2021. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

A civic organization for members of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program opposed a government agency’s proposal to withhold the financial assistance of those who are not COVID-19 vaccinated.

In a statement on Monday, November 8, the Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Pamilya ng Pantawid (SNPP) pointed out that this proposed policy will severely affect the education and health of their children.

“Kami sa Samahan ng Nagkakaisang Pamilya ng Pantawid (SNPP), isang malayang samahan ng mga Parent Leaders ng Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), ay mariing tumututol sa panukalang hindi makatanggap ng kanilang subsidiya ang mga benepisyaryong hindi magpapabakuna laban sa COVID-19,” the group’s statement read.

“Ang pagtanggap namin ng subsidiya ay alinsunod sa kondisyon ng programa para sa edukasyon at kalusugan ng aming mga anak na buong pusong tinutupad. Hindi kabilang sa kasunduang ito ang sapilitang pagbabakuna,” they added.

Instead, the SNPP suggested an information drive and proper incentives to encourage their communities to get inoculated.

“Mungkahi ng samahan na: Una, magkaroon ng pananagutan ang pamahalaan na kung ano ang mangyari ay may nakahandang pangkalusugang suporta para sa mga mahihirap,” the group said.

“Pangalawa, maipaliwanag ng maayos ang ukol sa bakuna. Pangatlo, gumamit ng insentibo hindi parusa upang mahikayat ang kapwa 4ps na magpabakuna,” they added.

The SNPP further stressed: “Kaya aming panawagan, huwag gawing sapilitan ang bakuna sa mga 4Ps!”

Jonathan Malaya, spokesman of the Department of Interior and Local Government, said in a previous interview that it was Interior Secretary Eduardo Año who recommended to withhold subsidies of 4Ps beneficiaries who have yet to receive their shots against COVID-19.

This came after Año received reports that some 4Ps beneficiaries refused to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Several lawmakers immediately opposed this suggestion. They described it as “inhuman” and against the law.

The 4Ps was institutionalized by the virtue of Republic Act 11310 or the “Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) Act” in 2018.

Under the law, eligible Filipino households or families will receive conditional cash transfer for at least seven years.

Palace, meanwhile, welcomed DILG’s idea. However, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque noted that the law should be amended first.

“Well, ang tingin ko po, ay pupwede naman pong i-require iyan sa 4Ps pero baka kinakailangan pong amyendahan ang batas kasi ‘yung batas po ang nagsasabi kung sino ang entitled sa 4Ps,” Roque said.

Increase social protection in 2022

The SNPP previously joined other civic organizations in calling for additional budget for their subsidies for next year.

This is to help the marginalized sector recover from the still worsening health and economic crisis.

In a virtual briefing on November 9, the People’s Budget Coalition, a community where the SNPP is part of, proposed an additional P550 billion allocation for the 2022 national budget.

“Alongside efforts to strengthen the healthcare system, the government must be able to provide the Filipino people ample economic aid. In this way, families will be able to sustain their basic needs during anticipated lockdowns, and be able to use this aid to stimulate alternative sources of livelihood,” their policy paper said.

“The current budget does not allow this kind of extensive support, with slashed budget proposals for programs aimed at vulnerable groups and to affected OFWs, among others,” they added.

Here is the breakdown of their proposed budget for the social sector, which includes “Persons with Disabilities (PWDs), single parents, indigent patients, senior citizens, and other individuals and families in difficult circumstances”.

Screenshot of the People’s Budget Coalition budget for the social sector captured on November 10, 2021

RELATED: Education advocates bat for inclusion of financial aid for students in 2022 budget

Senate President Vicente Sotto III early this month reportedly said the upper chamber is eyeing to pass the ₱5.024-trillion national budget for 2022 by the first week of December.