SOURCE: Press and Public Affairs Bureau
26 March 2021 05:59:21 PM
The Committee on Overseas Workers Affairs tackled Friday, the prioritization of overseas Filipino workers in the COVID-19 vaccination program of the government. Committee Chairman Rep. Raymond Democrito Mendoza (Party-list, TUCP) said the recruitment agencies are now declaring vaccination as an employment requirement for OFWs. He added that the sector has been appealing to the government for them to be considered as essential workers. Currently, OFWs are included in Group B5 or 10th in the ranking of prioritized groups. Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III vowed the he, together with the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA), would lobby to level up the prioritization of OFWs as the COVID-19 Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases convenes on March 29. He explained that the proposal would place OFWs who are healthcare workers (HCW) in Group A1, OFWs who are senior citizens in Group A2, OFWs with comorbidities in Group A3, and other OFWs in Group A4. Duque also said that the agency is open to the recommendations of Congress to ultimately improve the government’s vaccination program. Dr. Razel Nikka Hao, OIC-Director of the DOH’s Disease Prevention and Control Bureau, reported that the agency already requested the Overseas Workers Welfare Association to develop the subprioritization process, including operational definitions and verification mechanisms. This process would identify the OFWs who are HCWs, senior citizens, and immunocompromised. Duque assured that the committee would receive updates next week after the IATF meeting on Monday.