Sen. Cayetano bats for priority vaccination of informal sector workers

Published January 23, 2021, 10:49 AM

by Mario Casayuran

The National Task Force Against COVID-19 should include informal sector workers in the priority list of vaccine recipients under the government’s vaccination program, Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Saturday said.

Sen. Pia Cayetano (Senate Public Relations & Information Bureau)

“Ang ating informal sector, ‘yung sari-sari store [sellers] and street vendors, nakikisalamuha sila sa iba’t ibang mga tao araw-araw,” Cayetano said at the continuation of the Senate Committee of the Whole (COW) inquiry on the national vaccination plan yesterday. (Our informal sector, the variety store sellers and street vendors, interact with different people everyday.)

“I just wanted to be sure because I didn’t see them in the priority list. Even the informal sectors in the tourism [industry]–yung nagbebenta ng [souvenirs] pati na rin yung mga masahista. I think they are very vital to the stability and improvement of our economy,” she added. (-the souvenir sellers, including those in the massage industry…)

Responding to Cayetano, national task force deputy chief implementer Vivencio Dizon said that workers in the informal sector, particularly the vendors, are considered part of the indigent Filipino sector which, he said, would be accorded “higher priority, even above the essential workers.”

“Informal workers would definitely be covered in the priority sectors,” he assured.

Based on the initial list presented by Dizon, priority recipients include frontline healthcare workers, senior citizens, indigents, uniformed personnel, teachers, and social workers.

He noted that various technical working groups in the vaccine cluster are still working with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to have a definitive list of priority essential workers.

Essential workers include the workforce in the sectors of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, transportation, construction, food, tourism, essential retail, water refilling stations, laundry services, logistics and courier services, sanitation services, communication, energy, power, and fuel.

Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. clarified in the same hearing that the target date for the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout is still on February 20.