“Bakit tayo umabot sa ganito?”
That was the question of Senate Minority Leader Frank Drilon to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) after it offered the deployment of more Filipino nurses to the United Kingdom and Germany in exchange for Covid-19 vaccines.
“It’s a sign of desperation. Ganito na ba tayo kadesperado? said Drilon.
He added that the policy was borne out of the growing exasperation over the lack of Covid-19 vaccines in the country.
Drilon said DOLE’s “palit bakuna” initiative “is a wrong policy and sets a bad precedent.”
“Our health care workers are not commodities they can trade off,” he added.
An official of the labor department, Alice Visperas, revealed that Secretary Silvestre Bello III has asked the UK and Germany to provide the Philippines with at least 600,000 vaccines in exchange for the deployment of more Filipino nurses and other health care workers.
“For the government to go this far as trading off its Filipino health care workers in exchange for vaccines means something is not right in the government’s coronavirus vaccination strategy,” Drilon said.
The former labor secretary advised DOLE to abandon the policy.
“Hindi po kasama sa mandato ng DOLE ang ‘palit bakuna’. Our focus should be on protecting the rights and welfare of our overseas Filipino workers especially during these trying times,” Drilon said.
Drilon said it only highlights the need for the government to fast-track the procurement of Covid-19 vaccines.