MANILA - Presidential aspirant Ka Leody de Guzman on Friday reiterated his opposition to the transportation department’s “no vax, no ride” policy, accusing the government of coercing people to get jabbed.
“Mukhang yung patakaran na ‘yun ay trademark ng ating gobyerno, ni Pangulong Duterte, na ang kanyang paraan ng pamumuno ay pananakot, pamwemwersa, blackmail yung kanyang paraan sa halip na pangungumbinsi,” he said at a virtual forum.
(I think that has been the trademark of our government, of the President, that his leadership is about instilling fear, forcing people, and blackmailing others instead of convincing them.)
De Guzman said the government cannot force people to get vaccinated especially if they have concerns about the effects of the vaccines.
“Hindi mo naman pwedeng obligahin at i-patakaran na ‘yung mga tao ay magpa-vaccine kung sila ay may pagtingin o may duda pa sila doon sa vaccine na ibinibigay sa ngayon," he explained.
(You cannot oblige or force people to get vaccinated if they have doubts on the vaccines being distributed now.)
"Aminin man natin sa hindi, ay nasa proseso pa ‘yan ng eksperimento at nababasa ‘yan ng marami nating mga kababayan tungkol…sa kanilang Facebook o accounts kaya natural na magdadalawang-isip yung ating mga mamamayan doon sa pagpapa-vaccine,” he added.
(Let us admit that this is still in the process of experiments and people have read these on social media. This is why they are doubting their decision to get vaccinated.)
He cited Cebu Governor Gwen Garcia’s reason for opposing the “no vax, no ride” policy.
Garcia had quoted Republic Act No. 11525 or the COVID-19 Vaccination Program act of 2021 which says that “vaccine cards shall not be considered as an additional mandatory requirement for educational, employment, and other similar government transaction purposes.”
The law adds: “Individuals vaccinated against COVID-19 as indicated in the vaccine card shall not be considered immune from COVID-19, unless otherwise declared by the DOH based on reliable scientific evidence and consensus.”
In Cebu, COVID-19 vaccination cards are not required in schools and workplaces.
De Guzman also mentioned Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III’s claim that he had lesser antibodies after getting vaccinated.
'Shorten work hours to create more jobs'
In the same forum, De Guzman said addressing unemployment should be prioritized as it will cause more problems to families and also to the economy.
COVID-19 measures, he said, should go hand in hand with providing support to small businesses, which could provide employment.
He also proposed shortening work hours from 8 to 6 without lowering salaries or removing benefits, in order to create more jobs to address the unemployment during the pandemic.
“‘Yung 2 hours na malilibre ay pwedeng lumikha ng 11 million na mga manggagawa sa mga kasalukuyang may trabaho ngayon kung mababawasan sila ng tigda-dalawang oras ng pagtatrabaho, kapag dumami ang oras na ‘yun ay mabibigay natin doon sa walang trabaho,” he said.
(The 2 hours they are free could create 11 million jobs at present. This is if their work will be reduced by 2 hours.)
Pressed if shortening work hours and hiring more employees will put more pressure on employers, De Guzman said the measure will not be immediately implemented.
“Kapag maayos na ‘yung ating ekonomiya ay doon natin ii-impose na paikliin ‘yung oras ng paggawa ng mga manggagawa,” he said.
(When our economy has recovered, we will suggest the reduction of work hours.)
He added that more support should be given to farmers and fisherfolk, vowing to double the budget allotted to agriculture. He said he will provide them with incentives and facilities such as cold storage to keep vegetables fresh to encourage more people to take on farming in the countryside.
Sara-Walden debate over military conscription
De Guzman also weighed in on the debate between his running mate Walden Bello and another vice presidential bet, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio.
He said there are more pressing issues that needs to be addressed like COVID-19, unemployment, inflation, contractualization, oil price hikes and rice tariffication law rather than debate on military conscription of 18-year-olds.
“Maraming problema ang bansa, maraming dapat harapin, bakit naman ‘yung pag-oobliga sa ating mga kabataan mag-military training ang kanyang iminumungkahi,” said De Guzman.
(Our country has a lot of problems and we need to address them. Why would you propose obliging our citizens for military training?)
“Tama siya (Walden Bello) roon eh, like father, like daughter ‘yung nangyayari, kung ano ‘yung gusto ng tatay, gusto rin ng anak,” he said.
(Bello is correct. Like father, like daughter.)
Bello had called Duterte-Carpio's comment about mandatory military service a “mask off moment for the dictator-in-waiting, and should quell any doubt that the daughter will be any different from the father.
She also clarified her vision for mandatory military service includes disaster-preparedness and advancing the youth’s welfare, calling Bello an “ungrateful citizen” not worth emulating.
Bello shot back in a tweet: “Seryoso ka ba, Sara? Public service, disaster preparedness, social welfare—none of these need military service. They need the exact opposite: demilitarization. If militarization were so helpful, shouldn’t we have the best COVID response in the world today?”
At the forum Friday, De Guzman said candidates should focus on what the public needs.
“Dapat sumagot sila sa kung ano ang kahilingan ng ating mamamayan at huwag mag-imbento nang mag-imbento ng programa na hindi naman kahilingan ng ating mamamayan o hindi naman pinoproblema ng ating mamamayan,” he said.
(They should respond to what our citizens need. They should not invent programs that would not be patronized by Filipinos.)
Health care first
De Guzman said that if elected president, he would prioritize funding for health care, reiterating his proposal of imposing wealth tax and deferring payment of foreign loans for 5 years.
He said that while he is in favor of presidential advisor Joey Concepcion’s proposal to relax air travel restrictions, this should wait until COVID-19 cases are down.
He is also not in favor of face-to-face classes until COVID-19 cases are controlled, urging the government to speed up vaccination, contract tracing and mass testing.