Briones: No to special treatment

·2 min read

Should the government reward individuals who get vaccinated against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19)?

Of course not. Why should it?

Here in the Philippines, I truly believe the Duterte administration has been doing its best to address the pandemic. It’s not the same as saying that it has been successful in handling the situation because, let’s face it, it has committed a lot of blunders since the health crisis started more than a year ago. But hey, at least the vaccines are slowly trickling in to be administered to the public.

So everyone should be excited, right? Wrong. Many are in fact hesitant to get the jab. At this point, the government can’t force them to get inoculated. So the next best thing is to, uh, bribe them.

In Cebu City, the council passed a resolution authored by Councilor Alvin Dizon, urging commercial establishments to offer discounts, freebies, deals and promos to vaccinated individuals as incentive.

I’m talking about grocery stores and supermarkets, restaurants, online food businesses, gyms and spas, hotels, pharmacies, tourism spots and attractions, public transportation, retail stores and service-oriented establishments.

I know the councilor’s heart is in the right place. But he should have considered the plight of commercial establishments, many of which have been affected by the restrictions imposed to try and contain the virus.

I don’t see how his measure will help “reinvigorate the business community and the economy,” although local business groups seem to support it.

Speaking of economy, it has been contracting for several months and it continues to contract. A full recovery cannot be expected until the country attains herd immunity against the disease. That can only happen if a substantial proportion of the population, say 80 percent, is vaccinated.

So yeah, the government needs to do a lot of convincing to get the country out of this mess, but I think Dizon is going about it the wrong way.

After all, commercial establishments are probably still reeling from the losses they incurred when the city was placed under strict lockdown and many of them were forced to shut down or lay off workers. It doesn’t make sense for the City to ask them to give anti-vaxxers special treatment. That would be asking too much.

So how about this for an incentive? Everyone receiving regular financial assistance from the City – senior citizens, persons with disabilities, etc., etc. – must get an injection or they don’t get anything at all.

How’s that for starters?