Solon sees more entry refusals for OFWs due to lack of ‘credible’ vax cards

12 August – A party-list congressman has asked Congress to expedite the passage of his proposed bill which would create a globally-recognized  national vaccination passport as he warned that the absence of a credible proof of vaccination for Filipinos travelling overseas might lead to more entry refusals just like what is happening in Hongkong.

According to Congressman Ronnie Ong of the AP Party-list, the case of the Overseas Filipino Workers who were denied entry in Hongkong because immigration authorities refused to recognize their locally-issued vaccination cards should raise the urgency to have an internationally recognized and credible Covid-19 vaccination passport for all fully-vaccinated Filipinos.

Ong said he already foresaw this scenario and this prompted him to file House Bill 8280 or the proposed Vaccination Passport Law on December last year or months before the government started its mass vaccination program but it has yet to be deliberated upon by the House Committee on Health.

“ I’ve already anticipated that having these vaccination passports or other forms of proof of vaccination will be the new normal in our travels and this is the reason why I filed HB 8280 months before the first batch of vaccines reached us. Had the government been more proactive in creating a national vaccination database and national vaccination card, our embattled OFWs in Hongkong would have been allowed entry without any problem. Matagal na dapat binigyan solusyon ito pero hinintay pang maging problema bago na-address yung issue,” Ong lamented.

He added that Hongkong authorities should not be blamed for refusing to recognize the vaccination cards presented by the inbound OFWs because there is really no way to verify the authenticity of their documents.

Ong said that the Hongkong government has every right to stop the entry of foreigners to protect their citizens from possible Covid infection.

“ I really cannot blame the Hongkong government because they really have to also protect their citizens especially because our country is notorious when it comes to faking government documents. Yun ngang mga RT-PCR results napepeke, yun pa kayang vaccination cards? Therefore, it is very important that we have credible proof of vaccination or a vaccination passport because I am sure this will soon be as important as our driver’s license under the new normal,” Ong said.

Ong said that in the absence of a globally-recognized vaccination passport,  the government should at least expedite the creation of a national vaccination database which could allow immigration authorities around the world to verify  and authenticate the various versions of vaccination cards that are issued to vaccinated Filipinos.

This database which should have been put together by the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) as soon as the government started its vaccination program. ###