UK declines PH offer to deploy more Filipino nurses in exchange for vaccines

Aileen Cerrudo   •   February 25, 2021   •   664

MANILA, Philippines—The United Kingdom (UK) government has declined the offer of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to deploy more nurses to the UK in exchange for vaccines.

UK Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce said the recruitment of nurses and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines are two separate issues.

“We’ve got no plans to link vaccines with those conversations around the recruitment of nurses. You know those two strands of conversation I think continue but as I’ve said again we have no plans to link those two issues,” he said during a virtual conference.

DOLE Silvestre Bello III proposed forming an agreement with the UK to lift the deployment cap of healthcare workers, provided the UK would allocate vaccines for them. Bello also made the same proposal with Germany.

DOLE Information and Publication Service (IPS) Director Rolly Francia clarified the proposal was to make sure the nurses are safe when deployed abroad and not for the country to have additional supply of COVID-19 vaccines. This was after the proposal drew ire for making nurses look like ‘commodities’ to be exchanged for vaccines.

“What Secretary Bello wants is to ensure that the nurse gets vaccinated if ever the request for an exemption in the cap would be granted by the President,” Francia said.

Nevertheless, Ambassador Pruce said he will meet with Bello in the coming weeks to further discuss the issue. AAC (with reports from Janice Ingente)

More than 1,200 BI frontliners to get COVID-19 vaccine

Robie de Guzman   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Immigration (BI) on Friday announced it will roll out the COVID-19 vaccination for its frontline workers this weekend.

In a statement, Immigration Commissioner Jaime Morente said they are looking to inoculate a total of 1,250 immigration personnel starting this April 24 to 25.

Immigration personnel eligible for vaccination will receive government-procured Sinovac’s CoronaVac jab, which will be administered in two doses in an interval of 28 days.

A pre-screening will be conducted on the medical history of the officers to determine those who are eligible to receive the vaccine.

“We have scheduled vaccination of our eligible employees on a weekend so as not to hamper our daily operations,” Morente said.

Adhering to the priority list given by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), the BI will start vaccinating employees who are senior citizens and persons with co-morbidities.

“The continuous rise of COVID-19 cases accentuates the need to vaccinate our frontliners, especially those belonging in the most vulnerable group such as the seniors and persons with co-morbidities. We want to assure their safety from the threat of the deadly virus,” Morente shared.

BI Deputy Commissioner and Chairperson of the bureau’s COVID-19 Task Force Aldwin Alegre said that despite vaccine rollout among immigration officers, they will continue to implement basic health protocols such as wearing face masks and face shields, maintaining physical distancing, and checking body temperatures.

“Our frontliners are one of the most exposed and have a high risk of contracting the highly transmissible virus. As such, we will continue to make sure that all health protocols are being followed,” Alegre said.

“I am confident that as our officers get their jabs, we will be able to carry out our mandate better and with less worry,” he added.

The BI has so far recorded 300 COVID-19 infections among its personnel.

Angel Locsin apologizes after senior citizen died while waiting in community pantry

Aileen Cerrudo   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Actress Angel Locsin on Friday (April 23) apologized after a senior citizen died while waiting in line at the community pantry in Quezon City.

The actress admitted they were not able to control the huge crowd that waited in line.

She said the community pantry was supposed to open at 10:00 a.m. but they had to open a bit early as the volume of people who want to benefit from the community pantry began to rise.

There were also individuals who did not have a stub and, yet, cut in line.

Hindi lang po talaga nila ma-control ang mga tao. Hindi po ito ang gusto ko, nagsimula po kami ng maayos ang aming layunin pati ang pagpaplano ng social distancing nagkataon lang po talaga siguro na gutom lang po talaga na kahit wala pa sa pila sumingit na. Sa mga nagambala ko po dito pasensya na po hindi po ito ang intensyon ko (We were not able to control the crowd. This is not what I wanted, we started off good and we planned it out including the social distancing. It just so happends that there were a lot of people in need that they had to cut in line. To those I inconvenienced, I apologize. It was not my intention),” she said.

The senior citizen, 67-year-old Rolando Dela Cruz, fainted while he was in line in the community pantry. He was rushed to the hospital but was declared dead on arrival.

Barangay Holy Spirit Captain Chito Valmocina expressed concern over the lack of coordination between the local authorities and Locsin’s personnel.

Ang request nga nila dalawang tanod lang. Alas-dose na hindi pa natatapos ang 300 tsaka pa nila sinabi na talagang hanggang 300 lang (They only requested two barangay tanods. It was already 12:00 noon, they still were not done serving 300 [beneficiaries] when they said they will only accommodate 300 people),” Valmocina said.

Meanwhile, the Quezon City local government said they are ready to provide financial aid to the relatives of Dela Cruz.

The local government added that it still supports community pantries; however, the health and safety protocols should still be followed and organizers should fully coordinate with the local government to avoid a similar incident. AAC (with reports from Janice Ingente)

DOLE to hire 1,000 additional contact tracers for Metro Manila

Marje Pelayo   •   April 23, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) will hire up to 6,000 contact tracers to help in the government’s response against COVID-19.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that from the initial 4,000 recruits, the government is now planning to hire 1,000 additional  contact tracers for Metro Manila.

Bello said DOLE  has allotted an additional P65 million for the mass hiring, bringing the program’s total budget to P295 million.

The official explained that such augmentation is necessary as the demand for contact tracers especially in Metro Manila has been high.

“Kailangang-kailangan talaga ng ating mga contact tracer lalong lalo na dito sa NCR at saka sa apat na bubble,” Bello said.

As of Thursday (April 22), the number of applicants for the position has reached more than 10,000.

Bello said training for the contact tracers will begin on Monday (April 26). Accepted applicants will start their duty on May 1.

Each contact tracer will receive a monthly salary of P16,000 or up to P45,000 for three months. MNP (with reports from Rey Pelayo)

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