DOLE wants OFWs, minimum wage earners included among priorities for COVID-19 vaccine
Marje Pelayo • December 21, 2020 • 509
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) wants overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) and minimum wage workers to be among the first to receive the vaccine for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) once it becomes available.
In an interview with UNTV, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said minimum wage earners comprise about 60% to 70% of the country’s overall workforce thus, they also should be prioritized in the administration of COVID-19 vaccines.
“Kailangan tiyakin natin ang kaligtasan ng ating mga minimum wage workers para matiyak natin din yung ating negosyo at ang ating economic recovery (We need to ensure the safety of our minimum wage workers so we can guarantee the success of our businesses and economic recovery),” Bello said.
He also reiterated that overseas Filipino workers play an important role in the country’s economy in the form of remittances, hence they should be listed at least among the top six in the order of priority.
“Doon naman sa mga Overseas Filipino Workers, tinagurian silang bagong bayani, modern day heroes so they should be treated as modern days heroes (Overseas Filipino workers are considered modern-day heroes so they should be treated as that),” the Secretary said.
ALU-TUCP Spokesperson Alan Tanjusay supports the idea saying workers are exposed to threats of COVID-19 and the possibility of transmission is high.
He also suggested the possibility of investors leaving the country and transferring to other countries that are already administering the vaccine.
“May posibilidad na magsilipat ang mga investors doon sa mga bansang nabakunahan na dahil regular na ang mobility nila, ang pagbyahe ng mga manggagawa (There is a possibility that investors would go to countries where vaccines are available because mobility and travel of workers there are back to normal),” Tanjusay argued.
DOLE said the expenses for the vaccination may be shouldered by either the government or the employers.
The Employers Confederation of the Philippines (ECOP) said big companies could probably afford to shoulder the expenses.
The only concern, he said, are the small and medium companies that comprise about 90% of businesses in the country.
“Kahit anong gawin natin hindi kayang magpabakuna noon. Iyon nga lang 13th month pay alam mo naman nagkahirapan tayo. Iyon pa kaya sa bakuna na iyan (Whatever we do they wouldn’t be able to afford the vaccine. They can hardly provide for their workers’ 13th month pay, how much more for the vaccine),” said ECOP president Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr.
The employers’ group said, it should be the government that will shoulder the expenses of the COVID-19 vaccine.
ECOP said it is still up to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) as to who they want to prioritize for the vaccination and not all workers are obliged to take it. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) eyes increasing the current deployment cap on healthcare workers (HCW) to 5,000 more and make it 10,000 per year.
“Naniniwala ako right now na we have enough number of nurses kaya I’m willing to recommend na itaas ang deployment cap from 5,000 to another 5,000,” said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III in response to the request of HCW who wish to seek employment abroad.
Recently, the government has stopped the deployment of new medical workers abroad after the number reached the 5,000-limit.
Bello assured that should his recommendation be approved, the country would not come short of healthcare workers.
He stressed, however, that the decision still remains with the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).
The Filipino Nurses United is pleased with the proposal as this would provide more opportunities for them to seek greener pastures abroad.
However, they still want the removal of the deployment cap and let all Filipino healthcare workers explore employment opportunities in other countries.
“Sa tingin po namin merong sapat in terms of number. Ang problema po ay yung paghikayat ng gobyerno na magtrabaho sila as nurses sa ating mga healthcare facilities,” said Jocelyn Andamo, Secretary-General of the Filipino Nurses United.
The group said there are still around 200,000 nurses in the country who work outside their profession and earn below what they deserve being professional nurses.
Since the deployment cap was imposed, around 4,000 nurses were not able to process their documents for employment abroad. -MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines will receive on Thursday, June 17, some 1.5 million more doses of COVID-19 vaccine from Chinese drug firm Sinovac Biotech, the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 said.
In a media advisory, the NTF said the shipment will be carried by a Cebu Pacific flight, which is expected to arrive at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 2 at 7:30 a.m.
The incoming vaccine doses will be the third batch of Sinovac shots to be delivered to the Philippines in June.
The vaccines will then be transported to the cold storage facility of Pharmaserv Express, Inc. in Marikina City where they will be preserved prior to distribution to local government units.
Once delivered, the country’s vaccine supply will increase to more than 14 million doses.
Vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. earlier said that around six million more vaccine doses are expected to arrive in the remaining days of June.
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Finance (DOF) on Tuesday (June 15) assured that the national government has enough budget to procure coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine doses.
During the hearing of the Senate Committee of the Whole on the COVID-19 vaccination drive, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III said the government’s P88.6 billion budget is enough to vaccinate 70 million adult Filipinos. This, he said, will cover 149 million vaccine doses.
Dominguez also said that the government will be able to obtain 200 million doses if the private sector will also procure around 25 million doses to be added to the 30 million doses that “are currently in the pipeline for negotiations”.
When asked about the price range for the procurement of vaccines, Dominguez replied it ranges from P323.75 – P1,323.30 per dose. He, however, did not disclose which brands, saying it would violate the non-disclosure agreements with vaccine manufacturers.
Senator Franklin Drilon stated the need for the Senate as well as the public to know the price range of the procured COVID-19 vaccines.
“To be clear, wala po akong sinasabing may nagnakaw. Maliwanag po iyan. Tinatanong ko lang kung magkano ba dahilan sa ito’y obligasyon natin bilang mga senador, obligasyon natin kung paano natin ginagastos ang kanilang pera,” he said.
(To be clear, I was not saying there is corruption. It is clear. What I am asking is how much were the doses since this is our obligation as Senators. It is our obligation to know how we spend public funds.)
“This is a public forum, we cannot disclose publicly. Now if COA [Commission on Audit] wants to audit us, it is open for audit. I personally designed the financing of this involving ADB [Asian Development Bank], AIIB [Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank], and involving World Bank as a double-check. Because they will not pay for that if they see that we are overpaying,” Dominguez said.
The government is also reviewing to have an additional P20 billion to procure doses for the vaccination of children ages 12 to 15 years old. The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it already released over P660 billion funds for the government COVID-19 response.
Meanwhile, the first batch of vaccine supply for the private sector will arrive on June 17.
Vaccine Czar Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. also said that private companies will give excess doses to the local government.
“Most of the private sector indicated to me that they will donate it to the LGU. considering that when we procured the vaccine the intention of the private sector is really to help the government in producing the dosage,” he said. -AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)
UNTV is a major TV broadcast network with 24-hour programming. An Ultra High Frequency station with strong brand content that appeal to everyone, UNTV is one of the most trusted and successful Philippine networks that guarantees wholesome and quality viewing experience.