Farmers and other agricultural workers should be treated like medical and security frontliners, thus, are entitled to be in the priority list of the COVID-19 vaccine program, Magsasaka partylist Rep. Argel Cababat said.
Cababat sought government recognition of the contribution of farmers in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As we roll-out our vaccination program this year, there is a need to recognize the important work that our farmers do,” Cabatbat said.
He pointed out that the agricultural sector “has fought tooth and nail” to help the nation survive the COVID-19 crisis.
“Their dedication, despite the overwhelming odds stacked against them – in government funding and assistance, legislation, and competition – gives them the right to be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine,” Cabatbat stressed.
While farmers will not be in the first in the line for vaccine inoculation, they are nonetheless included among the top priority sectors to be vaccinated.
President Duterte made this clear as he ordered that the poor will be assured of vaccines and will be among the first batch of Filipinos to get it.
Cabatbat insisted that farmers should be treated in the same manner the frontliners are getting government attention.
“In many ways, our farmers are essential workers and should be treated akin to the medical sector and our uniformed personnel,” said Cabatbat.
There is an estimated 2.1 million farmers for rice production alone.
Cabatbat said it is important to vaccinate farmers ahead of other sectors in order for government to “send the message that we see them with value” and recognize their importance to the nation and in order to show the country’s gratitude to for their contribution.
“They are frontliners – in the fields and markets, and the results of their hard work are felt by everyone who needs to eat – that deserve to be treated with utmost respect. However, the sad reality is that even with all their sacrifices for the nation, the farming sector remains to be one of the poorest groups of Filipinos. A threat to their health is a threat to their livelihoods, and by extension, their family’s and the Philippines’ future,” said the partylist solon.