Former Vice President Jejomar Binay on Wednesday urged the youth to be vigilant and demand accountability from government, especially for its response to the present crisis.
In a virtual forum organized by political science students of San Beda College, Binay said the country’s battle against the deadly coronavirus disease is being funded by P10.77 trillion in foreign loans “to be paid for by you, and the future generations.”
“It is therefore only proper that we ask government, or rather, demand from government that they spend every peso wisely, that they ensure that these borrowings go to programs that address the needs of millions of Filipinos and help our economy recover,” said Binay when asked about the country’s situation amid the pandemic.
“In short, we should expect and demand accountability. This is not the time to be silent,” he said.
Binay said the pandemic will define the country’s national situation in the months to come.
“Our national and local economies continue to suffer losses.
Businesses are closing down, with millions of Filipinos losing their jobs,” he said.
The former vice president warned that unless government improves the country’s health system, upgrades contact tracing and mass testing, and vaccinates a large segment of the population, the country will go through a prolonged period of hard and loose lockdowns, or peaks and drops in infections and the number of recoveries and deaths.
“Not only will this strain the economy but it will impact negatively on the physical and mental well-being of our citizens,” he said.
But despite the importance of focusing on the pandemic, according to
Binay, the government continues red-tagging certain groups and even undertakings like the community pantries.
He added that harassment and acts of violence against activists persist even during the pandemic.
“More than ever, we must continue to keep the government in check – for larger national goals of sovereignty, economic recovery, and pandemic response, all the way to the smallest aspects of governance,” said Binay.
“Ultimately, this government will be judged by the way it has handled this pandemic, and how people’s lives fare as we collectively and individually navigate the challenges of this crisis,” he added.
At the same time, Binay asked the administration of President Duterte to seriously rethink a proposal requiring beneficiaries of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps) to have themselves vaccinated as a condition prior to receiving their regular cash aid.
He described the proposal as discriminatory and anti-poor.
Binay cited a Pulse Asia survey where vaccine hesitancy cuts across all economic classes.
“Making vaccination as a condition for continued cash aid can be seen as government taking advantage of the poor’s vulnerability. It implies that the poorest of the poor, unlike the other economic classes, are not entitled to informed consent. They do not have the right to choose their vaccines, or to decide if they want to be vaccinated,” he said.
Binay said that kind of imposition will be strongly opposed if it were applied to the middle and upper classes.
“The poor, on the other hand, are voiceless. The proposal punishes the poor for their aversion to vaccines. It also punishes them for their poverty,” he said.