AdChoiceTV News — For the protection of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), the government is requiring foreign countries and employers to ensure that those they’re hiring from the Philippines would be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) chief Bernard Olalia said OFWs will not be cleared for deployment until the host country or foreign employer ensures that they would be inoculated against COVID-19.
“That’s our existing policy. We will not allow OFWs to be deployed if they are not included in the priority vaccination program of the receiving countries,” Olalia said in Filipino at a recent press briefing.
“One of the mandates of POEA is to promote the welfare and protect the rights of our OFWs,” Olalia said of POEA’s commitment to ensure that OFWs are prioritized for protection against the coronavirus.
He cited Israel for agreeing to include the 400 Filipino caregivers it is hiring in its COVID-19 vaccination program upon their arrival there.
“The same goes for other skills like our nurses who are prioritized in the vaccination program of other countries where they would serve as frontliners,” Olalia said.
The United Arab Emirates, for example, agreed to vaccinate all Filipino household service workers to be deployed there, he added.
The POEA administrator said no country or employer has so far rejected the new policy, which is also being done for the protection of the foreign employers and co-workers.
“It’s not just for the safety of our OFWs, but also for the safety of their employers with whom they would mingle in their workplaces,” he explained.
Ideally, OFWs should already be vaccinated prior to deployment. But if vaccines are not available here, they will have to be vaccinated in their destination country, Olalia said.
The government is looking to including OFWs in the list of priority groups to be vaccinated in the country.
Based on data from the different Philippine Overseas Labor Offices, close to 16,000 OFWs worldwide have been infected with COVID-19. Of this number, close to a thousand have succumbed to the infection.
Reporting by Irvin Chua