Former Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada is opposed to the labor department's offer to deploy Filipino health workers abroad in exchange for coronavirus vaccine supplies.

Filipino nurses for COVID-19 vaccines? That’s human trafficking, Tañada warns DOLE

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Former Quezon Rep. Erin Tañada is opposed to the labor department’s offer to deploy Filipino health workers abroad in exchange for coronavirus vaccine supplies.

The former lawmaker considered the Department of Labor and Employment’s move to send more health workers for vaccines as a form of “human trafficking.”

“hmmm…! Human Trafficking… Barter Trade… is this the way we look at our health care workers or workers in general?” Tañada tweeted on Tuesday, February 23.

“Or is the bigger story the FAILURE of the government to procure the right number of vaccines for our country so they had to resort to embarrassing measures…,” he added.

Tañada was reacting to a Philippine Star news story titled “Nurses for vaccines: Philippines in talks with UK, Germany.”

In the story, the labor department was trying to secure 600,000 coronavirus vaccines the United Kingdom and Germany in exchange of the deployment of more Filipino health workers. The vaccines are supposedly intended for overseas Filipino workers, including those who lost their jobs.

UK and Germany earlier reported sought exemption from the Philippine government’s 5,000 annual limit on the deployment of Filipino nurses and other health workers.

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Walang pilitan! DOLE to issue advisory on ‘no vaccine, no work’ policy

MANILA – Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Saturday announced that they will issue an advisory on the issue of vaccination in workplaces early next week.

“We will issue an advisory, not an order on Monday. We will advise everyone that nobody can be forced to undergo vaccination without his or her consent and any policy that is requiring vaccination for work will be declared illegal,” he said in a Laging Handa briefing.

Bello said this is to make employers aware of this rule.

On the other hand, he urged workers to report to the department employers or companies that are requiring employees to get the vaccine before they will be allowed to enter the workplace.

“They can report it to our DOLE offices, we have city, municipal, provincial and regional offices and they can also call our hotlines: 1439 and 1438,” the Labor chief said.

Bello, however, said they have yet to receive any complaints from employees regarding the issue.

“We have not received any complaint yet. In fairness, the president of the Employers’ Confederation of the Philippines had said they will not implement such because they know that it has no legal basis and you cannot force the workers to get vaccinated, we don’t have the vaccines yet,” he said.

He, however, urged Filipinos to get vaccinated.

“I’m asking our fellow Filipinos to get vaccinated once the vaccines are available. The best way for us to ensure our return to normalcy,” he added. (PNA)

Para wala nang TNT! Bello: Russia eyes bilateral labor agreement with PH

MANILA – Russia has expressed interest to enter into a bilateral agreement with the Philippines on the deployment of migrant workers, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said on Saturday.

“We received a communication from the Russian government that they are willing to enter into a bilateral agreement with the government of the Republic of the Philippines,” Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in a Laging Handa briefing.

Bello said this is a welcome development for Filipinos, particularly those who are illegally staying in the European nation.

“With this development, we can now legitimize the stay of our overseas workers in Russia,” he said.

Bello added that under the plan, Filipinos who go to Russia as tourists can have their tourist visa converted into working visas.

“It’s under the same mechanics, (as to those who go to the United Arab Emirates (UAE). They went there as tourists and then they convert their tourist visa into a working visa,” he said.

On Monday, the Philippine government and the UAE signed an agreement creating a unified employment contract that provides stringent measures to protect Filipino household service workers (HSWs) pursuant to the directives of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

During the joint committee meeting from March 1 to 2, Manila has reiterated its position to deploy the workers through the legal channel, and the conversion of tourist visa to working visa is therefore not recommended since this may lead to illegal recruitment and trafficking in persons.

Bello said under the new contract, the conversion of a Filipino worker’s tourist visa to a working visa would have to be approved by Philippine Overseas Labor Office in the host country.

“The UAE will no longer allow the conversion of a tourist visa into a working visa without the approval of Labor Attaché in the place of deployment. It’s a protection for our OFWs,” he said. (PNA)

Dagdag supply! Galvez: 38K doses of AstraZeneca vaccine arriving in PH March 7

MANILA – The government is expecting the arrival of an additional 38,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccines through the COVAX facility on March 7, National Task Force Against Covid-19 chief implementer and vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Saturday.

“‘Yung darating po bukas ay more or less 38,400. Ito po yung kabuuan ng 525,600 ng AstraZeneca (Arriving tomorrow are more or less 38,400 doses, part of 525,600 AstraZeneca vaccines),” Galvez said in an interview shortly after the symbolic vaccination rollout of AstraZeneca jabs at the Ospital ng Parañaque.

On Thursday night, the initial 487,200 shots of AstraZeneca vaccines arrived in the Philippines through the COVAX facility.

By the third week of March, 400,000 more doses of Sinovac vaccines will be delivered.

“So ngayon ang gagawin sa AstraZeneca, kung sino ‘yung mga hindi nabigyan ng Sinovac at saka willing magkaroon ng bakuna ay ‘yun po yung priority natin (We will prioritize the delivery of the AstraZeneca vaccines to those who did not receive the Sinovac vaccines and are willing to get vaccinated),” Galvez said.

The government will also prioritize the local deployment of AstraZeneca vaccines to areas with a surge in new coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections, including Calabarzon and Central Visayas, as well as the cities of Baguio and Davao.

“‘Yun ang priority natin na mabigyan ng mga bakuna, lalo na yung mga nakita natin na maraming new cases (Our priority is to give the vaccines to areas with a high number of new Covid-19 cases), ” he said.

Amid the limited global supply of Covid-19 vaccines, Galvez said the arrival of AstraZeneca and Sinovac jabs is a huge relief.

“Kasi nangako po ang Chinese embassy at saka Chinese government na mayroon pong parating na 400,000 na another donation para bubuuhin na lang nila na one million donation (As promised by the Chinese embassy and the Chinese government to complete one million doses, another 400,000 doses are set to arrive),” he said.

On top of the Chinese government’s donations, Galvez said the country’s procured Sinovac jabs would arrive by the end of March onwards. (PNA)

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