'Intention is sincere': DILG defends 'no vax, no ayuda' push for 4Ps beneficiaries

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 09 2021 04:38 PM | Updated as of Nov 09 2021 04:44 PM

MANILA - The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday defended its proposal to withhold some benefits of those enrolled under the country's conditional cash transfer program, hours after it was opposed by several officials.

In a statement, the agency said only 12 percent of the some 4.4 million households in the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program are vaccinated, citing data from the social welfare department.

The DILG also clarified that the move does not mean they would delist or remove a beneficiary, but it would just "withhold a portion of the benefit" or the health and nutrition grant, until the individual gets inoculated from COVID-19. 

"The intention behind this proposal is sincere and clear: to boost the inoculation drive in order to rise above the COVID-19 nightmare and reach population protection as soon as possible," the statement read. 

It is up to President Rodrigo Duterte, they said, to decide on the matter.

"We urge and challenge LGUs to adopt other creative ways to change the minds of their constituents, including the 4Ps beneficiaries, from hesitancy to vaccine acceptance and willingness," the agency noted. 

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said the non-vaccination against COVID-19 cannot be a ground to withhold the benefits of people listed in the 4Ps.

He said those qualified under the 4Ps law "become legally entitled to the conditional cash transfer benefits, provided they continue to comply with all the conditions under Sec. 11 of the law."

Senators have also expressed concern and disapproved of the proposal, as it could infringe on human rights. They added that vaccine hesitancy would not be solved by the proposal, as some shots have yet to be delivered to other areas in the country. 

Malacañang also said the proposal would not push through unless the 4Ps law is amended. 

Philippine authorities are ramping up the country's inoculation program to reach the target 1.5 million administered shots daily. 

They believe this could help achieve the ambitious 70 percent vaccination coverage within the year, even if a health official had said there is a possibility this might not be reached.

Government data showed that the government was only able to administer 697,025 shots in the past 7 days (Nov. 1 to 7), only over a third of the target. 

Some 48 million virus jabs have also yet to be administered, data collated by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group showed.

With less than 2 months left before the year ends, the Philippines has fully vaccinated only 29.8 million Filipinos and partially jabbed 35.1 million.

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