Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday said she was saddened that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III asked the United Kingdom for COVID-19 vaccines in exchange for Filipino nurses.
“Noong nabasa ko sa balita parang, nakakalungkot kasi parang commodity ‘yung ating health workers,” Robredo said in her radio program.
“Medyo nakakalungkot 'yun e kasi parang ganun na ba tayo ka-desparate na, alam ko desparate tayo for a vaccine, pero huwag naman at the expense ng ating health workers” she added.
For Robredo, the government should improve the condition of health workers in the country so that they would not have to go abroad for better opportunities.
Bello made the request after the United Kingdom asked to be exempted from the 5,000 deployment cap.
“Kako, if we are going to send our medical or health care workers, especially our nurses considering the high incidence of COVID in your country, it is best that the nurses or medical workers that we will be sending will or maybe pre-vaccinated,” he said.
“Before we even send them, you provide us with the vaccines so that they can be vaccinated,” he added.
British ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce, however, said they have no plans to link the vaccines to the conversations involving the recruitment of nurses.
“As you know, the United Kingdom has made a very emphatic commitment that any surplus vaccines that it may have as we go through the rollout of our own vaccine deployment plan, will be passed on to the WHO COVAX facility,” said Pruce.
Bello clarified that they did not make a deal.
“It’s just a precaution on our part na if we are going to deploy our nurses there, that they should be ano… they should be assured of their safety and health,” he said. — DVM, GMA News