MANILA - Filipinos eyeing jobs abroad are urged to get vaccinated against COVID-19, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration said Sunday as the country anticipates the arrival of its first supply of vaccines against the coronavirus.
"Kinakailangan po nila ito upang mapanatili at sigurado po ang kanilang safety and health sa countries of destination 'pag sila po ay na-deploy," POEA Administrator Bernard Olalia told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(They need this so their safety and health in countries of destination are ensured.)
"Dahil sa vaccination ng iba't ibang destination countries, pinapayagan na silang bumalik. Karamihan sa merkado natin, unti-unti nang nagbubukas at tumatanggap ng ating balik-manggagawa."
(They are now allowed to be deployed due to vaccination in various destination countries. Several sectors are re-opening and accepting returning workers.)
The Philippines is set to receive doses of China's Sinovac and the UK's AstraZeneca vaccines on Sunday and Monday, respectively. Overseas Filipino workers are included in the country's second priority groups for inoculation.
Olalia said the country's OFW deployment had declined in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Some 300,000 land-based OFWs were deployed last year, an 80 percent decrease from an annual average of 1.4 million in previous years, he said. The deployment of sea-based workers also halved to 200,000 from an average of 400,000 prior to the pandemic, he added.
The Department of Foreigns Affairs said that as of February 20 this year, a total of 368,736 overseas Filipinos have been flown home the government started its COVID-19-related repatriations.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said last week that the number of OFWs coming home as a result of the pandemic has declined from around 2,000 to 3,000 a day before, to a maximum of 1,500 recently.
"Nabawas-bawasan na," he told TeleRadyo Sunday last week.
The Department of Health will issue COVID-19 vaccine passports to those inoculated, Malacañang earlier said.
Senators, however, said they would move to replace the vaccine passports with COVID-19 vaccine card as it “connotes or affects mobility” and may be construed as discriminatory.
As of Saturday, the DFA said 14,896 COVID-19 cases have been recorded among overseas Filipinos, of whom, 4,499 are undergoing treatment.
In the Philippines, coronavirus infections have reached 574,247, including 37,093 active cases.