A House leader has pushed for the enactment of a bill that provides a one-time P15,000 cash assistance for fully-vaccinated Filipino families.
Assistant Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Alfred Vargas said his House Bill 10644 or the “Ayuda sa Bakuna” bill supports the government’s COVID-19 vaccination program.
The bill seeks to introduce the cash assistance program under the Department of Social Welfare and Development, on top of the agency’s ongoing social amelioration activities.
“This measure not only alleviates the sufferings of our fellow Filipinos in this two-year global pandemic, it also helps solve the problem by encouraging science-backed vaccination and accelerating our achievement of herd immunity,” the lawmaker said in a statement.
“It prioritizes the poorest of the poor and the most vulnerable sectors of our communities. These include senior citizens, persons with disabilities, and persons with comorbidities. The program will, however, cover all eligible Filipino families, as long as living and qualified members have complied with the government’s prescribed vaccination program,” added Vargas, brother of congressional candidate Patrick Michael Vargas.
Vargas filed the bill as a response to the dynamic nature of the pandemic, especially with the growing threat of the Omicron variant.
In the bill’s explanatory note, Vargas stated that stronger social safety nets must be put in place to support multiple marginalized sectors and protect them from poverty.
At the same time, the “Ayuda sa Bakuna” program helps reduce vaccine hesitancy, which continues to hamper the government’s efforts to control COVID-19.
The national government failed to meet its target of fully vaccinating 54 million Filipinos by the end of 2021, but officials expressed confidence that they will meet their goal within January.
In December, the Department of Health identified five regions with low vaccination rates. These are Regions 3 (Central Luzon), 4A (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon), 6 (Western Visayas), 7 (Central Visayas), and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
“Vaccines save lives. Our nation’s strong vaccination drive has already shown that. Our Ayuda sa Bakuna program reflects the Filipino people’s values of bayanihan and damayan: to defeat COVID-19 and take back our normal lives from this virus, we need to help each other. We need to make sure that no one gets left behind,” Vargas said.
HB 10466 is expected to reach deliberations in the House of Representatives when session resumes early this year.