A nurses' organization on Wednesday expressed dismay over the Department of Labor and Employment’s plan to deploy more Filipino nurses and other medical workers to the United Kingdom and Germany in exchange for COVID-19 vaccines.
Interviewed on “Balitanghali,” Filipino Nurses United secretary general Jocelyn Andamo said health workers were not commodities the government could trade.
“Nadismaya po kami (sa pahayag ng DOLE) kasi parang ‘yong treatment po sa mga nurses at ibang health workers ay tila ba para kaming kalakal or commodities,” Andamo said.
“‘Yong pagpunta po ng nurses at ibang health workers abroad ay karapatan po nila ‘yon para makapagtrabaho po ng mas maayos dahil po dito sa ating bansa ay ‘di naman po sapat ang sahod so ‘di naman po natin kailangan pigilan,” she added.
“Samantalang naman po ‘yong pangangailangan natin sa bakuna ay dapat siguruhin ng ating pamahalaan,” Andamo said.
Alice Visperas, director of DOLE's international affairs bureau, earlier said the country was open to lifting the cap in exchange for vaccines from Britain and Germany.
The DOLE will use to the vaccines in the exchange to inoculate outbound workers and hundreds of thousands of Filipino repatriates.
Roque says, 'Why not?'
President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque Jr. welcomed the DOLE’s proposal.
He said it would not hurt to have additional doses of COVID-19 vaccines even if the government had ordered doses for the country’s 70-million adult population.
"Nag-order po tayo ng sapat, sobra sobra pa, 90 million, sinobrahan pa nga natin," Roque said at a Palace briefing.
"Pero siyempre kung mas maraming supply ang makukuha natin, bakit hindi?” he added.
However, it was reported that Britain’s health ministry was not interested in entering into such an agreement.
Currently, the national government is imposing the 5,000-cap on overseas deployment of health workers.
Earlier in the day, British Ambassador Daniel Pruce said the UK had no plan to exchange vaccines for Filipino nurses.
“I’d say we’ve got no plans to link vaccines with those conversations around the recruitment of nurses,” UK Ambassador Daniel Pruce said in a virtual chat with reporters. -NB, GMA News