THE country’s first maritime political party, Angkla Partylist, appealed on Wednesday, November 3, to the National Government to allot universally-accepted vaccines to overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to ensure that they will not encounter issues when they arrive in their countries of deployment.

According to former representative Jesulito Manalo, who is also the first nominee of the group, “now that supply is not an issue anymore, we can prioritize based on need and on how each and every vaccine will be utilized for our economic recovery.”

“We know how big the contribution of OFWs and seafarers to our economy is and as such, we ask President [Rodrigo] Duterte to ensure that they will get universally-recognized vaccines so they can immediately start supporting us in our road to recovery,” Manalo said.

Angkla vice-chairman Captain Ronald Enrile also mentioned that being inoculated with universally-accepted vaccines like Janssen, Pfizer, and Moderna is crucial for the immediate deployment of seafarers.

“We have to understand that our seamen are deployed not just in one country. Our Filipino seafarers hop from one country’s territory to another,” he said.

Enrilie said having them vaccinated is not just about protecting their health but also protecting their livelihood.

“We do not want companies to hesitate in deploying our seamen, considered the best in the world, just because their vaccines are not recognized by some host countries,” he said.

Manalo, who also sits as the chairman of Angkla, said that as many seafarers are awaiting deployment, allotting vaccines for them that are recognized by all countries, will also address the dwindling vaccine rate in the country.

“We’ve seen the data, as well as Octa Research’s findings that point at vaccine hesitancy as among the reasons for the country’s slowed down vaccine drive. We want the government to know that there is low or even zero vaccine hesitancy among seamen. They want to be deployed and they understand that being fully protected is a requirement in their job,” Manalo added. (PR)