Ride safe! Road rules for bikers, active mobility users

Recognizing the growing number of bikers and active mobility commuters on our roads since the onset of the pandemic, the Department of Transportation,  on August 25, 2020, issued Department Order No. 2020-14 which established guidelines on active transportation and light mobility vehicles.

Read or download DOTr Department Order No. 2020-14 HERE.

These landmark rules also complement Senator Pia S. Cayetano’s Safe Pathways Network Bill, which the Senate passed on third and final reading on February 1, 2021.  Its counterpart measure is moving forward in the House of Representatives. Keep posted for updates.

Speech at the turnover of vaccines at St. Luke’s BGC

Hello, good morning to everyone. Thank you. It’s my pleasure to be here. I am truly excited to witness this momentous occasion.

A little background, almost a year ago, we started this journey with COVID. It’s a journey that I wanted to share with you from the perspective of a legislator – as a senator, I’ve always believed that we should never get in the way of science. And I’ve always felt very strongly that it is our job as legislators to work with the experts.

And so it’s really been an honor, and I thank Secretary Charlie [Galvez], Secretary Vince [Dizon], and of course, my brother Lino [Taguig Mayor Lino Cayetano], and national government, local governments officials – through your eyes, we have been able to come up with a legislation.

I strongly believe that we would not be able to come up with legislation without the scientists. We were in contact in the early days, around April, trying to understand what is going on. And every step of the way, I try to be in contact with DOH, with PGH, and although not directly with St Luke’s, but through my brother, I would get the information that comes from pure experiences.

I hate to put it this way, as I have experienced online bashing for saying that I “thank” COVID for the lessons we’ve learned – because there have been lessons. And we would be stupid, it would be a kind of stupidity, not to learn from this. So I end this because the most important thing is for [our medical frontliners] to get vaccinated.

My message is that this doesn’t end with vaccination. It’s just the start of the journey.

[Minutes ago,] I was still in the car [attending] an online hearing on the resumption of school. Many of the young mothers here have kids in school. These kids have been out of school for almost a year. And their mental health, their social skills, their need for peer companionship – these are aspects of child development that we cannot overlook.

And so the more vaccinations we have, the more we can open up. But it’s been a year. So I think, Sec. Charlie, you’ve done your job, you’re rolling it out, let’s now focus on education. Because we really have to have a whole-of-society approach. Thank you for all your hard work. Thank you.

Q & A on CREATE at the Laging Handa public briefing

Q: Ano po ang CREATE Bill at paano po matutulungan ang mga negosyo na makabawi sa COVID?

Senator Pia S. Cayetano (SPSC): Napakahalaga nitong batas na ito kasi sa mga nakaraang buwan, halos isang taon na, talagang parang nalulunod tayo sa problema na dala ng COVID. Kung ano ang normal na problema natin, nadagdagan pa dahil sa COVID. Dahil hirap ang tao maghanap ng trabaho, yung mga negosyo, they are struggling.

Ang kagandahan nitong CREATE na ito… Na-conceptualize ito believe it or not, 25 years ago pa para pagandahin ang incentives para ang mga investors, magustuhan nila mag-invest dito sa Pilipinas. So 25 years in the making na yan. Ang nangyayari kasi kanya-kanyang incentives ang ino-offer, hindi ho coordinated, so the first part of CREATE is yung nagbibigay ng maganda and very competitive incentives compared sa ibang neighboring ASEAN countries natin.

Gusto sana natin, ang ating kagalingan sa English language, we are very competent in English, this is a global world. People will love to invest in our country. So when we pass CREATE na magaganda ang incentives, parang sinabi natin sa mga investors, pasok kayo dito, maganda incentives, bawas ang tax na babayaran sa mga unang taon because kayo naman ang magbibigay ng trabaho, ng technologies. So that’s the first part of CREATE. Yung incentives.

The second part really affects every business person. Kung kayo ay may korporasyon, it doesn’t matter kung small or big, dahil pati naman ho maliliit na negosyante, pwede naman ho magbuo ng korporasyon, ang tax natin ngayon na nasa 30 percent bababa agad ng 25 percent. So kung ang isang korporasyon ay kumita ng P1 million, dati 30 percent nun babayaran as tax, that is P300,000. Ngayon, less 5 percent. So that would be P250,000. Malaking kabawasan.

In addition to that, kung small and medium ka na hindi lumalampas ng P5 million ang kikitain mo, malaki na ang P5 million, 20 percent lang ang iyong tax na babayaran. So in other words, imbes na kukunin ng gobyerno ang tax, ang pera, binabalik niya sa tao. Gamitin niyo sa kung paanong paraan na gusto niyo. Gusto niyong magdagdag ng manggagawa, you want to hire more employees, go ahead. Gusto niyong dagdagan ang benepisyo ng employees niyo, go ahead. Gusto niyong bumili ng makinarya, go ahead. Kung anuman, nilalagay itong pera sa kamay ng mga negosyante.

So yun ang dalawang main features. Marami pang iba. We included VAT and duty-free importation of the COVID vaccines, pati ho ang tax sa educational and health institutes natin, nabawasan ho nang todo kasi maraming nagsasara ngayon so gusto natin makatulong. Isa yan sa konti, pero mauubos oras natin kung inisa-isa ko. So yun na ang pinaka-major. Yung mga binanggit ko.

Q: Ano po ang iba pang tax breaks

SPSC: Katulad nga ng inumpisahan ko nang banggitin, ulitin ko na ang pinakamahalaga ay ang pagbawas ng corporate income tax both for small, medium, and large corporations, yun pang additional na binibigay natin na tax incentives para doon sa pagpasok ng gamot, hindi lang ang COVID vaccines, pero pati yung para sa mga kinikilalang top [disease] na nakakamatay sa atin, kasama po diyan ang TB, cancer drugs, at iba pa.

And then, nabanggit ko nga, pati doon sa educational sector, meron din tayo. Binawasan din natin ang tax nila, and kung meron tayong mga negosyanteng nakikinig, kasi medyo technical na itong sasabihin ko pero meron hong tinatawag na MCIT – minimum corporate income tax – ginawa ho nating 1 percent yan, dati 2 percent. And yung 3 percent percentage tax, ginawang 1 percent. Babalik na lang ito sa 3 percent after 3 years. So ito po ay good for 2 years basically, ngayon hanggang June 2023.So really, support for the business sector kasi kung buhay ang negosyo natin, may trabaho ang tao, makakauwi sila ng pera, at buhay din ang pamilya nila.

Q: How will it benefit existing and future investors?

SPSC: Noong unang na dini-debate itong CREATE, ang pangalan pa niya noon is CITIRA, umaangal ang mga negosyante kasi akala ho nila, ito po yung mga nakakatanggap ng incentvies sa economic zones, katulad ho ng Subic, Bataan, Cebu. may mga economic zones po tayo diyan. Akala nila basta-basta tatanggalin sa kanila yun. Hindi ho totoo yun. In fact, ang nangyari dito, kung kayo ay isang registered business enterprise na tumatanggap ng incentives, tuloy-tuloy po yan for 10 years. Kung income tax holiday, which means wala kayong binabayaran na income tax, honored yun, tuloy-tuloy yun. Tapos kung may natatanggap kayong special income earning, yung rate tawag po dun is GIE, tuloy-tuloy pa rin yan for 10 years. So walang tatanggalin na basta-basta.

And then, yung mga bagong applicant o mga mag-reapply ulit, napakaganda at napakahaba ng incentives na binibigay natin sa kanila, equivalent to 14-17 years. Kumbaga kayo ang GM o presidente, baka retired na kayo, baka yan pa rin ho ang tinatanggap na incentives  ng korporasyon niyo. So siguro ho, wala nang makakapagsabi na hindi maganda ang naibigay natin.

And ang purpose natin dito is tanggap natin na mahirap ang panahon, gusto natin kapag tiningnan yan ng mga investors na may pera, “Uy, maganda diyan sa Pilipinas. Pasok tayo diyan.” At lalong magkakaroon ng trabaho. So maganda ho itong mga incentives, there is nothing to worry about. In fact, andaming business associations na tuwang-tuwa ho na finally, napasa na ito. Kasi ho nung November pa ito napasa ng Senado. Kaya nag-aantay na sila na ma-finalize na ito, maging batas na talaga ito.

Q: On VAT and duty-free vaccines?

SPSC: It’s VAT and duty-free exempt.

Q: PPEs and drugs for COVID-19?

PSC: Basta related sa COVID.

Q: How can CREATE help in countryside development?

SPSC: Maganda itong pagkagawa namin nitong CREATE dahil in-identify po natin ang mga lugar. Kumbaga we categorized every area in the country, such that Metro Manila, siya na ang pinakamababang incentive na matatanggap kasi buhay na ang negosyo sa Metro Manila. Syempre, kailangan pa rin ng tulong, and that’s why andoon ang corporate income tax reduction, binabaan para lahat ng negosyante, kahit saan ka sa buong Pilipinas, makikinabang ka.

But in terms of incentives, yung mas malayong mga lugar, yun ang pinakamagandang incentives. Kaya panawagan ko talaga sa mga local government officials natin, and even the local businessmen, now is a good time to look for partners na madadala niyo kung may mga economic zones sa lugar niyo o kahit walang economic zone, because we have incentive packages na mas maganda kung doon sila magde-develop outside Metro Manila, magada ang package nila. And then, even outside yung ibang mga metropolitan, yung metropolitan Cebu, Davao, kung mas malayo pa, mas maganda rin ang tatanggapin nilang incentive. Kasi mas gusto natin, mag-invest sila sa rural areas natin, mga areas natin na kulang pa talaga sa technology and support systems, doon natin sila gustong mag-focus ng investment.

CREATE passage to end investor uncertainty in PH

Senator Pia S. Cayetano sees an end to investor uncertainty in the country with the impending passage of the Corporate Recovery and Tax Incentives for Enterprises (CREATE) bill by the Senate and the House of Representatives.

The Senate Ways and Means Committee Chair issued the remark after she met informally with the members of both Houses led by the House Ways and Means Chair to discuss the disagreeing provisions in the versions of the two chambers.

“I would like to report to the Filipino people and to our business community that the CREATE bill, the landmark legislation that the Senate passed in November last year, is finally moving forward,” she said.

“I can now say more confidently that the cloud of uncertainty that has hovered over our country’s investment climate due to unwarranted delays in CREATE’s passage is about to end. The wait-and-see period would soon be over and investors can look forward to doing business in our country under a tax and fiscal incentives regime that favors job generation, ensures flexibility and accountability, and promotes sustainable and inclusive growth,” she added.

Based on the discussions, Cayetano said the Senate version mandating the immediate and substantial lowering of the Corporate Income Tax (CIT) will be retained.

Under the Senate version, the current 30% CIT rate will be reduced to 25% for all enterprises, and to 20% for qualified micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) with a net taxable income below P5 million and total assets below P100 million.

“The CIT reduction will bring much-needed economic relief to businesses, especially to MSMEs. This will also allow the Philippines to be more competitive in the ASEAN region and position itself more firmly as a viable investment location,” she said.

The incentives scheme for registered enterprises under the Senate version would also be retained, save for some changes in the incentives to be granted for both exporters and “critical” domestic market enterprises, and for general domestic market enterprises.

The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) shall be tasked with determining which domestic industries should be classified as “critical.”

Also to be retained is the threshold set by the Senate version on the value of investment projects that would have to go through the approval of the Fiscal Incentives Review Board (FIRB), and the different investment promotion agencies (IPA), respectively.

Under the Senate version, investments with a value above P1 billion would go through the evaluation and approval of FIRB, while those that fall below the P1 billion threshold would be evaluated for approval by the IPAs.

Cayetano said other key features of the Senate version would likely be retained, including:

-reduction of the 2% Minimum Corporate Income Tax (MCIT) to 1% effective July 1, 2020 until Jine 30, 2023, after which the tax rate shall be raised back to 2%;

-repeal of the imposition of the Improperly Accumulated Earnings Tax;

-setting of the Deductible Interest Expense at 20%

-reduction of the 3% Percentage Tax to 1% effective July 1, 2020 until June 30, 2023, after which the tax rate shall be raised back to 3%; and

-reduction of the 10% special tax rate on Proprietary Educational Institutions and Hospitals which are Non-Profit to 1% effective July 1, 2020 until June 30, 2023, after which the tax rate shall be raised back to 10%.

Cayetano is hopeful that the bicameral conference committee report could be formally discussed soon and finalized.

“The passage of CREATE will guide our economic recovery, following the contraction of our Gross Domestic Product last year by -9.5%, the worst on record since the post-World War II era. We need to act decisively to turn our economy around, bring in more investments and jobs, and position ourselves more strategically for the challenges of the future and the rapidly changing times,” she concluded. #

Pia gives bikes to community frontliners in Pampanga

CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, PAMPANGA  — Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Friday led the distribution of new bicycles for the use of the city’s frontline community workers.

Cayetano, together with CSFP Mayor Edwin Santiago, turned over ten bicycles and safety gear sets in simple ceremonies held in the city.

The recipients included traffic enforcers, street sweepers, barangay health and social workers, and utility staff.

“Our beneficiaries help the city every day, and we don’t want them to be exposed [to COVID-19] kapag sumakay pa sila ng sasakyan. Makatutulong din ito para makatipid sila ng kaunti kasi may sarili na silang bike,” Cayetano said.

The bike distribution is part of Pilipinas in Action, a movement initiated by the senator to extend support to medical frontliners and essential workers leading various community programs to contain the COVID-19 pandemic across the country.

Cayetano, a biker herself, and the principal author and sponsor of the Safe Pathways Bill (Senate Bill No. 1582) acknowledged Mayor Santiago’s initiatives to promote cycling as a healthy, sustainable, and safe mode of transportation among Fernandinos.

“I consider this visit a homecoming, because it was right here in the city of San Fernando that I started my campaign to return to the Senate two years ago, and Mayor Santiago was also there to express his support,” the senator shared.

Cayetano was referring to the first day of the national electoral campaign on February 12, 2019, where she biked from Brgy. San Agustin going to the Pampanga capitol grounds for a campaign rally, using the bike lane along the stretch of Lazatin Avenue.

The senator was then joined by a local bikers group, as well as athletes training under national triathlon coach Melvin Fausto, who hails from Angeles City.

Cayetano also thanked Microgenesis Software, Inc., which donated the 10 bicycle sets through Pilipinas in Action, as she underlined the importance of various sectors coming together in a whole-of-society approach to overcome the threat of COVID-19.

She noted that Mayor Santiago’s initiative to make San Fernando City more bicycle-friendly is in line with the objectives of SBN 1582, which the Senate passed on second reading last Monday (January 25).

Under SBN 1582, a Safe Pathways Network shall be established throughout the country, consisting of bicycle lanes and ‘slow streets’ along local roads that will provide pedestrians, cyclists, and users of non-motorized mobility devices.

Cayetano said that the proposed measure would promote a healthy lifestyle among Filipinos and benefit the environment due to reduced carbon emissions and less use of energy and resources.

“The passage of the bill is good news to the growing biking community all over the country, especially in Pampanga, which is a favorite destination for bikers, including myself, and a known training hub for Filipino athletes,” she concluded.

Chair of the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking, Cayetano noted that the bill’s objectives are also in line with the country’s commitments to the SDGs, in particular: SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being); SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy); SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure); SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities); SDG 13 (Climate Action); and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). #

Senator Pia S. Cayetano speaks before local officials and employees of San Fernando City, Pampanga during the Bike For Hope donation drive of her advocacy arm, Pilipinas In Action (PIA). The senator led the distribution of ten new bicycle sets for the benefit of the city’s frontline workers.

DND, UP officials urged to hold dialogue ‘with an open mind’

Senator Pia S. Cayetano urged officials of the University of the Philippines (UP) and the Department of National Defense (DND) to engage in dialogue with an open mind, and in the spirit of finding solutions to differences that led to the unilateral abrogation of the 1989 UP-DND accord.

“I ask both parties to come in with an open mind. Come in assuming that you have a child studying there [in UP],” Cayetano said Tuesday, as the Senate tackled a resolution expressing its sense to welcome the DND’s decision to answer various calls for a dialogue with UP on the termination of the long-standing agreement.

The senator, who earned her economics and law degrees from UP, said the unilateral abrogation of the accord “sends the wrong signal that we cannot even appreciate what was done in the past,” that led the two parties to come to an agreement in 1989.

“I read the statement of [former UP] President [Jose] Abueva on how he and [then Defense Secretary Fidel] Ramos had mutual respect for each other, and so it made it easy for them to come to this agreement. That is what we need at this time, not unilateral actions, which may be based on information that is perceived as facts by one side, but not necessarily facts on the other side,” Cayetano said.

“I am a proud graduate of UP, as so many of our other colleagues are here. UP has molded me. I was never an activist. I was more of a volleyball player, trying to get good grades. My brother, now Congressman Alan Cayetano, was an activist. So iba-iba ang nagiging experience, iba-iba din ang nagiging outcome nitong experiences namin. And we come out, in many ways, molded, inspired, touched by our experiences in UP,” the lawmaker added.

Senate Resolution No. 616, of which Cayetano manifested to be a co-author along with fellow senators, further urged both parties to revisit the accord. It also called on the DND to hold dialogues with other academic institutions to find a common ground that promotes the rule of law, peace, and security, and protects academic freedom and the pursuit of excellence.

Cayetano recalled that she brought the UP Women’s Football Team to the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) for “a light and fun exchange” between the students and the cadets.

“One of the little efforts that I have done – and I know it’s a very small effort – is I’ve brought the UP Women’s Football Team to PMA twice, so that there would be a light and fun exchange [and] getting-to-know-you among these students of UP and the cadets of PMA. That was done in the spirit of sportsmanship. I think it was a step in the right direction,” she said.

“Sana, ‘yan din ang ipakita natin, tayong mga leaders of these various institutions at the highest level. So that we can really move in that direction — in the spirit of friendship, in the spirit of finding solutions, and not just making a conclusion that ‘my way is better than your way,'” Cayetano concluded. #

Safe Pathways Network bill hurdles second reading

The Senate has approved on second reading the bill that aims to provide safe and convenient pathways for Filipinos who prefer to walk, or use non-motorized vehicles, such as bicycles and electric personal mobility devices to get to their regular destinations.
The passage of Senate Bill 1582, or the Safe Pathways Network bill, will primarily benefit the growing local biking community, according to the bill’s principal author and sponsor, Senator Pia S. Cayetano, herself a bike enthusiast.
“This is good news sa lahat ng mga bicycle advocates and enthusiasts. Because during this time of COVID, napansin namin that there have been more people who want to use a bicycle to get to work,” said Cayetano, Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), Innovation, and Futures Thinking.
“We must provide infrastructure that would encourage and accommodate sustainable and healthy modes of transportation such as walking, biking, and the use of other non-motorized vehicles,” she added.
Under the proposed measure, a Safe Pathways Network shall be established throughout the country, consisting of bicycle lanes and ‘slow streets’ along local roads that will provide pedestrians and non-motorized vehicle users safe and convenient access to frequented destinations.
Non-motorized vehicles include bicycles, skates, skateboards, push scooters, and hand carts, while electric bicycles and electric kick scooters are referred to as electric personal mobility devices, according to Cayetano’s bill.
Bicycle lanes shall be physically separated from the main road through physical barriers, or shall be elevated, or constructed separately from the main road. Painted road markers may also be used for roads with limited space.
“It is important that there is a network of bicycle lanes to assure continuity. Mahirap naman na doon lang sa barangay mo may bike lane. Dapat meron din sa iba’t ibang barangay. Kunwari tatawid ka from Taguig to Pateros or to Makati. Para safe kang makakarating. Ayaw natin ng bike lane that suddenly ends,” Cayetano stressed.
Meanwhile, motor vehicles shall have restricted access to slow streets, and speed limits shall be put in place on certain days or hours.
“‘Slow streets’ is a relatively new concept in the country. Pwedeng ipasara yung kalsada para sa mga sasakyan para pwedeng lakaran at gamitan ng bisikleta,” the senator explained.
Cayetano added that the proposed measure would promote a healthy lifestyle among Filipinos and benefit the environment due to reduced carbon emissions and less use of energy and resources.
She further noted that the bill’s objectives are in line with the country’s commitments to the SDGs, in particular: SDG 3 (Good Health and Well-Being); SDG 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy); SDG 9 (Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure); SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities); SDG 13 (Climate Action); and SDG 17 (Partnerships for the Goals). #

Pia wants informal sector included in vaccination priority list

Senator Pia Cayetano has urged the National Task Force Against COVID-19  to include informal sector workers in the priority list of vaccine recipients under the government’s vaccination program.
“Ang ating informal sector, ‘yung sari-sari store [sellers] and street vendors, nakikisalamuha sila sa iba’t ibang mga tao araw-araw,” Cayetano said at the continuation of the Senate inquiry on the national vaccination plan on Friday.
“I just wanted to be sure because I didn’t see them in the priority list. Even the informal sectors in the tourism [industry]–yung nagbebenta ng [souvenirs] pati na rin yung mga masahista. I think they are very vital to the stability and improvement of our economy,” she added.
Responding to Cayetano, national task force deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon said that workers in the informal sector, particularly the vendors, are considered part of the indigent Filipino sector which, he said, will be accorded “higher priority, even above the essential workers.”
“Informal workers would definitely be covered in the priority sectors,” he assured.
Based on the initial list presented by Dizon, priority recipients include frontline healthcare workers, senior citizens, indigents, uniformed personnel, teachers, and social workers.
He noted that various technical working groups in the vaccine cluster are still working with the Department of Trade and Industry and Department of Labor and Employment to have a definitive list of priority essential workers.
Essential workers include the workforce in the sectors of agriculture, forestry, fisheries, transportation, construction, food, tourism, essential retail, water refilling stations, laundry services, logistics and courier services, sanitation services, communication, energy, power, and fuel.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez, Jr. clarified in the same hearing that the target date for the country’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout is still on February 20. #

Pia files ‘vaccine passport’ bill

To help ensure the effective and efficient rollout of the country’s vaccination program, Senator Pia S. Cayetano is proposing to establish a Vaccine Passport Program that will help the government keep track of every Filipino’s record of inoculations against COVID-19.

The senator on Wednesday (January 20) filed Senate Bill No. 1999 or the “Vaccine Passport Program Act,” which seeks to provide a vaccine passport to all Filipinos.

Cayetano said her proposed vaccine passport would put on record who has been inoculated with which kind of vaccine, when and how many doses were administered, and other matters related to the government’s intensive vaccination plan against COVID-19.

Moreover, she said the vaccine passports – which shall primarily be digital but shall also be available through printed copies to ensure accessibility for all – would allow the government to monitor the distribution of vaccines, their effects on people, the overall effectiveness of the immunization program, and to gather data for post-market surveillance.

The vaccine passport shall contain the following standard information: a) Manufacturer, brand name, and batch number or other identifier of the COVID-19 vaccine; b) Date of vaccination; c) Name of the hospital, health center, or health facility where the vaccine was received; and d) Name, signature and license number of the duly licensed physician, nurse or other health worker administering the vaccine.

The measure further recommended that individuals vaccinated against COVID-19, as indicated in their Vaccine Passports, may be granted certain benefits or exemptions, subject to guidelines issued by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

These benefits could include international travel, as may be allowed in foreign jurisdictions; non-essential domestic travel; local checkpoint and quarantine exemptions; and access to business establishments allowed to operate during the New Normal.

“We should recognize the importance of preventive healthcare and the need to take proactive measures in the fight against diseases, particularly COVID-19,” the senator stressed.

“A comprehensive, mandatory, and sustainable immunization program for vaccine-preventable diseases – including the novel coronavirus – is indispensable to achieve the objectives of universal healthcare and the country’s commitments to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly on SDG 3 – Good Health and Well-Being,” added Cayetano, who chairs the Senate Committee on SDGs, Innovation, and Futures Thinking that keeps track of the country’s progress in achieving the 17 SDGs. #

Gov’t must clarify vaccine funding commitment to guide LGUs

Senator Pia S. Cayetano on Friday reiterated her call to the national government to clarify how much funds it expects local government units (LGUs) to shoulder for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines to ensure coverage for their constituents.

The senator made this call anew on Friday at the continuation of the Senate’s Committee of the Whole inquiry on the government’s vaccination plan.

“It’s still not clear to me how much you expect the LGUs to spend. I think that should be made very clear. LGUs will always want to provide for their constituents, but even for those that can afford [COVID vaccines], hindi clear kung hanggang saan ang national support at hanggang saan ang kanila,” Cayetano told officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) led by Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr.

“Hindi nila malalaman kung uubusin ba nila ang pondo nila sa AstraZeneca na lumalapit sa kanila? O kung meron naman talagang assurance that the national government will take care of X percent of their population,” she added.

Clarifying the national government’s funding and procurement plans for the vaccines, she said, would enable LGUs to more efficiently allocate their “limited and valuable” resources for other COVID response and recovery measures.

“There are many ways that [LGUs] can revive their economy and support their constituents. They could be providing subsidies for jeepney and tricycle drivers. They do not necessarily have to put all their funding into the vaccines, if the national government could commit to paying for such,” Cayetano pointed out.

“I am sure they (LGUs) would all want to help and they will help. Kung hindi talaga kakayanin [ng national government] to pay for all the vaccines, then they will have to take that out of their other funding requirements, most of which are already being directed to [addressing the pandemic],” she further noted.

On another note, the senator called on the Department of Health (DOH) and the IATF to employ the help of the country’s “vaccine experts” and third party professionals in properly communicating the government’s vaccination program and procedures to the public.

“It’s important that these third party professionals and experts also explain what this process is, and what are the dangers if we don’t respect this process, if we try to expedite it, if we try to shortcut it,” she explained.

“You need these experts to take the floor and explain. Let them be your mouthpiece so that people will get used to hearing them, block out the noise, and be more reassured,” Cayetano concluded.#