Solon: Exchanging Filipino nurses for Covid vaccines ‘not a good recommendation’
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) offer to deploy more Filipino nurses and other health care workers to the United Kingdom and Germany in exchange for Covid-19 vaccines is “not a good recommendation,” Quezon 4th District Rep. Helen Tan said Wednesday.
Tan, who chairs the House committee on health, opposed DOLE’s offer as she underscored the need for healthcare workers in the Philippines.
“No, I hope DOLE is aware that we are in great need of more health care workers [especially] nurses in the different levels of health care facilities. This will mean widening the gaps on health care services,” Tan said in a text message when asked about the offer.
“Although we cannot prevent nurses from leaving the country [because] of better opportunities abroad, still the idea of exchanging them to Covid vaccines is not a good recommendation,” she added.
Tan said the government “can find other ways to have access to Covid vaccines.”
Meanwhile, Bayan Muna Rep. Ferdinand Gaite said the offer to trade Filipino nurses for vaccines “exposes further the utter desperation of the Duterte government in procuring vaccines.”
“It’s a shame that we’ve reached this point that we are ‘commodifying’ our nurses just to get our supply of vaccines. Mga nurse natin ngayon ang magiging kabayaran sa kapalpakan ng pamahalaang ito,” Gaite said in a statement.
Gaite said the nurses are “being held hostage so they can be used as a bargaining chip.”
“Instead of seeing them like trading goods, let’s treat them as workers with dignity and heed their demands for regular jobs, appropriate compensation, and safe working conditions,” Gaite said.
Gabriela Partylist Rep. Arlene Brosas, meanwhile, said the offer was a “desperate attempt to patch up its incompetence in securing vaccines for the Filipino people, including overseas Filipino workers.”
“We should not even have to negotiate this way in the bid to acquire COVID-19 vaccines. Bakit kailangang i-barter ang mas malaking nurse deployment para sa bakuna sa ating mga OFWs?” Brosas said.
(Why do we have to barter for more nurse deployment for the vaccines of our OFWs?)
DOLE earlier requested the UK and Germany to provide the Philippines with Covid-19 vaccines in exchange for exemption from the 5,000 per year limit on deployment of Filipino nurses and other health care workers.
International Labor Affairs Bureau Director Alice Visperas said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has spoken with the UK ambassador to the Philippines regarding the deal.
Visperas said that if the UK and Germany would grant the request of DOLE, the vaccines would go to OFWs who were already repatriated and those who are departing for jobs abroad.
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