Sorsogon Gov. Chiz Escudero said overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) should be spared from paying the fees for the international vaccination certificate or “Yellow Card” being issued by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ) for outbound travel as proof that they have been fully inoculated against COVID-19.

In Advisory 101 issued on August 5, 2021, by the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) outlined the interim guidelines issued by the National COVID-19 Vaccination Center applicable to outbound travelers, including OFWs, should their country of destination require government-issued proof of vaccination.

The BOQ Medical Service OBS will be the platform for the issuance the international vaccination certificate until the Certificate of Vaccination Record portal becomes fully operational, the DOLE said. OFWs need to pay P300 for documentation fee and P70 more as convenience fee when they register through the BOQ platform.

This, however, did not sit well with Escudero, saying all fully vaccinated OFWs must be exempt from paying the fees.

“This should be given free of charge to all vaccinated OFWs,” the former senator posted on his Twitter account @saychiz.

“It won’t even cost more than P1.5 billion or measly 2% (1.5B/67B) of what DOH failed to spend last year,” he added, referring to the findings of the Commission of Audit released recently which showed among numerous deficiencies that the health department failed to utilize some P24 billion of the P67 billion budget it received to address the ongoing public health crisis.

“Huwag na nating dagdagan ang kalbaryo ng ating mga OFWs. Matagal silang napako dito sa bansa dahil sa pandemya at hindi makalipad. Ngayong may pagkakataon na silang makabalik sa trabaho, dagdag pahirap na naman,” Escudero said.

Just recently, the Department of Foreign Affairs disclosed that Hong Kong, home to more than 200,000 Filipino domestic workers, won’t honor the vaccination cards issued by local government units as proof that they have been inoculated, leaving about 3,000 OFWs bound for the Chinese territory stranded here.

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