By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Philippine Star

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Thursday belied reports that Filipino healthcare workers and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) were being traded in exchange of coronavirus vaccines from United Kingdom and Germany.

Bello, in an interview over DZMM TeleRadyo, explained Filipino nurses and OFWs should receive vaccine shots before leaving for UK.

“Ang daming nagsasalita hindi naman nila alam ang nangyari. Kung ide-deploy natin sila, tiyakin natin na ligtas sila, may vaccine na sila,” Bello said.

“Wala kaming kinalaman dyan sa status ng vaccine. Ang amin lang, if they want our nurses, I want to be sure na pag pinadala natin eh safe sila,” Bello added.

Bello drew flak after he reportedly talked to United Kingdom Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce for COVID-19 jab donations and offering an exemption from the 5,000-a-year limit on deployment of Filipino health professionals in return.

He said the country has an “oversupply” of nurses.

However, the government, imposed a limit on deployments to prevent shortage.

“Siguro kung 400,000 meron tayo nyan. Kaya lang may limitation para hindi tayo mawalan. Kasi kung pabayaan natin, i-open mo, eh marami talagang pupunta abroad dahil maganda ang kanilang hanapbuhay doon,” he said.

Meanwhile, Pruce has said there are “no plans” to agree to such deals.

He added the talks are underway for deployment of Filipino nurses and vaccine donation, but has said these are separate matters.

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