De Lima opposes Roque’s proposal to require COVID-19 vaccination for conditional cash aid


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Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has cried foul over Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque’s attempt to hold the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) aid hostage by proposing to make COVID-19 vaccination a requirement for the poorest Filipinos to get cash under the anti-poverty program.

De Lima, the principal sponsor and author of the 4Ps bill in the Senate, now a law, said that apart from its blatant illegality and sheer stupidity, Roque’s proposal shows just how out of touch with reality the Duterte regime truly is.

“The chance to get vaccinated means so much more to the poor who have to go out every day to earn a living compared to the rich and affluent who can opt to wait out the virus in their homes. Why would they hesitate?” she asked.

“Hindi pamimilit ang paraan para mabakunahan ang mga kababayan natin na nag-aalangan magpabakuna. Sa totoo lang, yung kalokohan ni Duterte at ng PSG ang nagsimula ng problema. Sa paggiit nila na mas mabuti yung smuggled na bakuna nila kaysa sa mga tried and tested na brand, bumaba ang kumpiyansa ng kanyang tagasuporta sa bakuna,” she added.

Recently, Roque claimed that studies show that only 30 percent of Filipinos are willing to get vaccinated against COVID-19, which is why he suggested requiring COVID-19 vaccination for the beneficiaries to get cash under 4Ps.

Roque added that such condition could also apply to future rounds of cash aid under the proposed Bayanihan 3, the third stimulus package for pandemic response.

In retort, De Lima reminded Roque to read the law before spouting nonsense, citing R.A. No. 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021 providing that “vaccine cards shall not be considered as an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employment and other similar government transaction purposes.

Instead of spouting their usual inanities, De Lima stressed that Duterte and Roque should use their platforms to ensure that the vaccines are both safe and essential.

“Ang 4Ps ay tulong sa ating mga kababayan na nangangailangan. Hindi ito kasangkapan para pilitin ang mga tao na naghahanap ng paglilinaw at impormasyon sa bakuna,” she said.

“Kesa mang-troll sila ng opposition, gamitin na lang nila ang boses nila para hikayatin ang tagasuporta na magpabakuna,” she added.

The 4Ps Act, which was signed last April 17, 2019, provides conditional cash grants to the qualified indigent families for a maximum of seven years, to improve their health, nutrition, and the education of their children aged 0-18. (30)

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