SENIOR citizens and persons with disability (PWD) who are fully and partially vaccinated against coronavirus disease (Covid-19) will be prioritized in the distribution of financial aid in Cebu City, while senior citizens and PWD who are unvaccinated will have to wait.
“PWD and senior citizens, I have made a statement that those PWD and senior citizens who are fully vaccinated will be prioritized in terms of financial assistance. Partially vaccinated PWD and senior citizens will come next, while the unvaccinated PWD and senior citizens will still receive financial assistance; however, they will have to take a back seat,” Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said in a speech during the flag raising ceremony on Monday, Dec. 6, 2021.
Rama said he will instruct Cebu City Health Department head Dr. Jeffrey Ibones and his team to visit the barangays of the PWDs and senior citizens who have not yet been vaccinated in order to provide door-to-door vaccination through the barangay vaccination sites.
“Dr. Ibones will bring a team so that no one can say we did not give them the opportunity,” Rama said.
Only 41 percent of the city’s over 90,000 senior citizens are vaccinated against Covid-19.
Cash card use stopped
Rama also suspended the use of the cash cards of thousands of senior citizens for the delivery of the P3,000 representing the final tranche of their financial assistance for this year.
Rama said the first to be given the assistance would be those senior citizens who are fully vaccinated, followed by the partially vaccinated senior citizens or those who had received at least a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, with the distribution to be conducted at the sports complex of every barangay on Dec. 18, 2021.
The same system will be followed for the distribution of financial assistance to the PWD, who will receive their P3,000 in assistance this Dec. 11.
Cebu Councilor David Tumulak appealed to Rama to reconsider his directive and to understand the plight of the senior citizens and PWD who do not wish to be vaccinated for their own reasons, so they could still receive the financial assistance set aside for them.
“We just asked our mayor to reconsider because his announcement that he will withhold the distribution of financial assistance, in order to prioritize the vaccinated ones, can be called a discriminatory statement,” Tumulak said in Cebuano.
Tumulak said the senior citizens’ refusal to get vaccinated should be respected amid the health issues they face which have prompted their fear of vaccination, their religious beliefs, as well as the need for still more information dissemination for better understanding on the need for and benefits of vaccination.
Tumulak, who is now on his last term as councilor for the south district, is running for mayor as an independent against Rama in the 2022 elections.
“We should not tell them that during this time of distribution, they will not be given their assistance or they will not be prioritized. This is not fair because remember, our senior citizens have contributed much to Cebu City, and we should honor them. And we should also respect their decision,” Tumulak said.
Tumulak said even if he himself favored vaccination, it ought not to be forced on other people since no national law requires every individual to get vaccinated, and instead they should be encouraged to do what they can to be saved from the deadly virus.
“I am not against vaccination, but we have to respect the rights of our vulnerable sectors. If the doctors say they really cannot be vaccinated, we should find ways to help them so that they will be given what is due them in terms of financial assistance. It is unfair for those who are vaxxed, but it is also unfair for those who are unvaccinated if they have valid reasons,” Tumulak said.