Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Sec. Silvestre Bello III confirmed to reporters Wednesday, March 3 that he has already sought exemption for the United Kingdom (UK) as far as the local deployment cap on nurses is concerned.
This, as Bello remained mum on the reply of the UK government on his request for it to shoulder the vaccination of Filipino nurses that could potentially be deployed there.
But the cap issue must be resolved first. “I already presented my position to the technical working group (TWG) of the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force),” Bello said during a virtual press briefing.
“It’s still pending with the TWG. The TWG will study my proposal and they will present it to the IATF, and it is up for the task force to come up with recommendations to the Office of the President,” he said, explaining the process.
The cap refers to the Philippine government’s limit on the deployment of Filipino nurses aboard. The limit is set to 5,000 nurses a year.
The Philippines and UK are supposedly locked in negotiations for the deployment of Filipino nurses to the western nation.
The request to send in nurses came from UK, which has been hard hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Being granted exemption means that the UK can get its share of Filipino nurses with no bearing to the cap.
Bello had earlier requested that the UK government provide for the vaccination of the Filipino nurses that would be sent their way.
He said UK Ambassador to the Philippines Daniel Pruce has already sent a letter answering this request.
“I am not at liberty to tell you the contents of that communication. (The President) should be the first to know,” the labor chief said.
He bared that he intended to relay the information to President Duterte during Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting.
Asked for his reasons for recommending UK’s exemption from the nurse deployment cap, Bello said: “We have (a) sufficient number or nurses and medical care workers.”
The Philippines-UK talks for nurse deployment resulted in the “nurses-for-vaccine trade” controversy, but DOLE Director Rolly Francia has since brushed this off as simply a case of “misquoted notion”.