Press Release
February 25, 2021

Villanueva rejects health 'workers-for-vaccine' barter

Senator Joel Villanueva on Thursday rejected suggestions that the Philippines send health workers to the United Kingdom or Germany in exchange for vaccines, saying the move should not be the answer to some officials' impatience over the arrival of vaccine supplies.

"The biggest question is why did we get to this point?" said Villanueva in an interview with PTV-4.

He said he has the highest level of respect for two officials who were reported as sources of the proposal--Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III and Foreign Affairs Secretary Leandro Locsin Jr.--"but I beg to disagree."

"I feel their sentiments and they're getting impatient," Villanueva said partly in Filipino.

Villanueva, chair of the Senate committee on labor, said there's no reason to trade Filipino health workers for vaccines especially now that Senate Bill No. 2057, or the proposed COVID-19 Vaccination Program Act of 2021, has already been adopted by the House and would be sent soon to President Duterte for his signature.

The proposal was attributed to the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) which had clarified that it was not a scheme to barter health workers for vaccines.

Villanueva said the controversy highlights the need to address challenges that overseas Filipino workers face.

This could be done through the proposed Department of Filipinos Overseas which Villanueva said will soon pass the Senate.

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