The Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) should take the lead in defending the beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program against the Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) “iron-fist” policies, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said on Sunday.
Drilon said he strongly opposes the “no vaccine, no subsidy” policy the DILG is proposing saying it is “absolutely unacceptable, inhuman and callous.”
“It pains me to see a government that has shown nothing but a total callous disregard for the vulnerable sector of our society. It is yet another display of the government’s callousness,” Drilon said in a statement.
“It only shows that the DILG is detached from reality and unaware of the real plight of the poor,” he added.
To this, he said, the DSWD should protect the welfare of its 4Ps beneficiaries.
“Let the DSWD handle 4Ps. I call on the DSWD to defend the 4Ps beneficaries against the ‘iron fist’ of DILG,” Drilon said.
The senator, who is among the authors of Republic Act No. 11310 that institutionalized 4Ps, said vaccination is not part of the conditiosn that beneficiares must fulfill before receiving cash assistance from the government.
He said it is contrary to the 4Ps law to withhold benefits or expel members who are not vaccianted. “The DILG cannot just do that. That will be inhuman and totally insensitive,” he said.
“We cannot assume that they are not vaccinated because they refused vaccines. They are not vaccinated because they have limited access to vaccines especially in the countryside or the roll out remains slow or the vaccines available are not what the people prefer,” Drilon stressed.
Drilon said he agrees with Vice President Leni Robredo that the government should offer incentives to get people vaccinated rather than punish them.
The DSWD had also earlier maintained that COVID-19 vaccination is not among the conditions of 4Ps and vowed to oppose the DILG’s proposal.
“The poverty incidence is continuously rising. There are 4.25 million Filipinos unemployed and 4.8 million families are hungry,” he said, citing an earlier National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) study.
“DILG’s callous policy will make things even worse for 4Ps beneficiaries and for the economy,” Drilon warned.