The national government inoculated 5,000 minimum wage earners and Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as a tribute to the workers sector on the observance of Labor Day ,Saturday, May 1.
The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said the vaccinated workers belong to the priority group A4 or frontline workers in essential services which include commuter transport, wet and dry markets, food service, news media, education, specific government agencies, and overseas workers among others.
“Today is Labor Day that’s why we made sure that we vaccinate 3,000 OFWs and 2,000 workers. I thank Secretary [Carlito] Galvez [Jr.], [Health] Secretary [Francisco] Duque [III], and Secretary [Vince] Dizon because they gave us the vaccines,” DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III said in Filipino during the symbolic inoculation program held at the Palacio de Maynila along Roxas Boulevard in Manila.
The event, according to DOLE, would serve as the “opening salvo” of the inclusion of the nation’s essential workforce in the immunization program.
The pandemic wrought havoc on the country’s economy as around 4.2 million Filipinos (8.8 percent) were reported jobless due to the impact of COVID-19, the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) had said in February.
Bello said the workers would be protected from the coronavirus through vaccination and be able to go back to their livelihoods. This would lift the economy that suffered a 9.5 percent drop in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2020, one of its worst recession since 1946 or after the World War II.
“Huwag niyo po iwasan ang bakuna. This is the best… ito ang pinakamabisang paraan para labanan ang COVID (Do not avoid the vaccine. This is the best way to fight COVID),” Bello said.
To ramp up the inoculation of those in the A4 priority list in Metro Manila, the epicenter of the pandemic in the country, the government has established at least three vaccination sites including one each at the Palacio de Maynila, Lakeshore Hub in Taguig City, and Quezon City Covered Walk along Elliptical Road in Diliman, Quezon City.
Bello said the DOLE prepared the master list of the vaccine recipients to ensure an equitable representation of the labor sector in the symbolic vaccination.
During the event, Bello was accompanied by Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Ramon Lopez, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) Director General Isidro Lapeña, Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) Administrator Hans Cacdac, DOLE Undersecretary for Employment and General Administration Renato Ebarle, and TESDA Deputy Director General for Operations Lina Sarmiento.
Social distancing also served as a challenge with a pack of crowd joining the government officials as evidently seen in a live broadcast of the vaccination program at the state-run Philippine Television (PTV) Network.