DILG’s “no-vax, no subsidy” proposal infringes on people’s rights

Photo by Michael Vargas/Philippine Star

The Department of Interior and Local Government’s (DILG) “no vaccination, no 4Ps subsidy” proposal infringes on the right of patients to voluntary and informed consent, human rights alliance Karapatan asserted on Monday, as the group opposed the proposals of several officials to implement “disincentives,” such as the withholding of government aid, against individuals who refuse to get vaccinated.

“While we encourage the public to get their COVID-19 vaccines — especially since vaccination is an important component of pandemic response — forcing, threatening, and coercing people to get vaccinated by denying them their rights and access to basic services does nothing to address vaccine hesitancy and anti-vaccine disinformation. The best way to encourage people to get vaccinated is through a comprehensive and mass public information drive on vaccination,” Palabay stated.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, has expressed that he was favor of making COVID-19 innoculation mandatory as he encouraged local government units to craft ordinances that would support the “no vaccine preference,” and that the National Vaccination Operations Center would be issuing a memorandum containing a list of “incentives” for vaccinated people while also containing “disincentives” for those unvaccinated.

Meanwhile, DILG spokesperson Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya has proposed to “disincentivize” the unvaccinated among Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino program beneficiaries. Palabay averred, however, that Galvez and Malaya’s proposals “do more harm than good: such ‘disincentives’ are effectively punitive and discriminatory, and the very act of withholding government aid to the people who need it amid this crisis is patently anti-poor.”

“Individuals have the right to adopt medical procedures through their voluntary and informed consent, and their refusal to get inoculated should not be used to deny them of their right to work, to receive government aid and subsidy, and access to other basic services. The challenge for their government is to rely not on threats and coercion, but to show people that these vaccines are free, safe, and effective, and through an approach that respects and upholds their rights,” the Karapatan official ended.