Philippine senators call for faster mass inoculation to reduce unemployment

“Joblessness is a result of ‘jablessness’ ... Mass inoculation is the cure to mass unemployment,” senate president pro tempore Ralph Recto has said.
By: | March 15, 2021

Recto said this to urge the government to quicken the pace of vaccination to spur economic recovery and, in turn, raise the employment rate in the country. 

“Opening up the economy remains [a] rhetoric if not accompanied by the opening up of more vaccination sites. Our recovery is through the tip of the needle,” he added. 

He said the vaccination should be made a top priority before the start of the rainy season when typhoons and floods could potentially cause power and transportation disruption and consequently wreak havoc on vaccine rollouts. 

Concurring, senator Joel Villanueva said the inoculation rollout for workers should be urgently implemented. “The only way to revive the economy and restore jobs and opportunities, especially for our workers and our MSMEs (micro, small and medium enterprises), is hinged on the immediate rollout of the vaccination programme,” he said. 

“It cannot be overemphasised that our essential workers – our economic frontliners – be next in the vaccination line after medical frontliners. Before our workers can roll up their sleeves to work, they must roll them up to get their shots,” said Villanueva, who is also chair of the senate labour committee. 

To support the call to action, both Recto and Villanueva cited data from the Philippine Statistics Authority report, which showed that some 4.5 million Filipinos were jobless last year and the average unemployment rate was 10.3% – the highest in 15 years. 

Instead of a one-time cash assistance, both senators said vaccination would be a much better option in the long run. 

“From a fiscal point of view, vaccines which give permanent protection are cheaper than a one-time ayuda (help). No matter how you compute it, what is to be injected in their arms are cheaper than any cash assistance that the government may want to put in their pockets,” Villanueva said. 

READ: “No vaccination, no work” policy is illegal in the Philippines

“The help our workers need from our government is not money that can tide them over a week, but gainful employment and livelihood that can only come after they have been vaccinated,” he added. 

Agreeing, Recto said “any ayuda is but a temporary pain killer that will lessen the symptoms a bit but will not cure the cause,” reported Inquirer.