MANILA, Philippines — Senatorial aspirant Teodoro “Teddy” Baguilat Jr. on Monday called on the national government to step up vaccinations of Indigenous Peoples (IPs), saying only less than 10% of that group have so far been vaccinated. against COVID-19.
Baguilat, who previously chaired the Committee on National Cultural Communities in the House of Representatives, said the slow rate of immunization of IPs puts the country’s cultural heritage at risk.
“At the start of the pandemic, there were fears that COVID would wipe out indigenous tribes, ironically because of the purity of their genetic makeup,” Baguilat said in a statement.
“That risk remains today, but we now have a shield in the form of vaccines, so the government must vaccinate as many members of the indigenous communities as possible, not only to protect them as Filipino citizens, but also to ensure the continuity of the life of the country. cultural heritage,” he added.
Citing data from the National Commission on Indigenous Peoples, Baguilat said that of the country’s 14 million indigenous community members, only one million, or less than 10 percent, have been vaccinated.
“IPs remain valuable contributors to economic development as pioneers in environmental advocacy and as small farmers and fishers. It is imperative that their health is protected,” he said.
“For centuries, PAs have been excluded from social service efforts, even as they continue to contribute to the nation in various ways. I hope the government’s vaccination campaign will be the start of a deliberate program of inclusion for all marginalized sectors,” he added.
Additionally, Baguilat pointed out that government vaccination data on indigenous communities highlighted the lack of a reliable IP census.
“It is impossible to develop an effective plan without reliable data. How can the government know, for example, how much health personnel and equipment to deploy if the number of target beneficiaries is based on estimates? ” he said.
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