By Ernie Reyes
MARCA photo courtesy
MANILA — Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has commended the Filipino-American groups of registered nurses, doctors, and community advocates for seeking the help of the United States to send five million AstraZeneca vaccines to the Philippines the soonest time possible to inoculate more Filipinos.
De Lima, social justice and human rights champion, made the statement after the Fil-Am groups’ request to US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer for a five million doses specific allocation bore good result as the latter vowed to write to US President Joe Biden to send 5 million AstraZeneca jabs to the Philippines.
The groups include Frontliners Above and Beyond, Kalusugan Coalition, Kinding Sindaw Heritage Foundation, National Federation of Filipino American Associations, Philippine Nurses Association of America, Philippine Nurses Association of New York, US Filipinos for Good Governance, and US Medicare PH.
“The efforts of these Filipino-American leaders are truly commendable as they show that they do not forget their countrymen even though they are miles away from home. True Filipinos in heart and spirit. Kahanga-hanga!,” De Lima said.
“The 5 million vaccine doses that could be given to the Philippines can make a big difference because these can protect thousands of lives against the deadly COVID-19 virus,” she added.
In a statement, the group said that in response to their request, US Senator Schumer recently announced that “The Philippines should get a robust amount, and I’m here to give you some good news: I will support and send a letter to the President, and call him that 5 million of those vaccines should go to the Philippines. You deserve it and you need it.”
In an interview with De Lima’s staff, Kym Villamer, a nurse working in New York and a member of Frontliners Above and Beyond who was among those who led in requesting 5 million vaccines from the US government, said that she may be working abroad, but she will never turn her back on her fellow Filipinos, having experienced firsthand fighting a virus that people did not know much about before.
“When I think about the Philippines, I think about the people I met in Tondo. I mean, its always the people I met in communities that do not have the means to actually fight for themselves kasi they are busy fighting for their basic needs. That is my inspiration,” said Villamer.
Asked about the details of their meeting with Schumer, Villamer shared: “We were basically ready for a pitch to try to convince him but right of the bat he said, he loves the nurses, he is going to write to the President [Biden] to give us 5 million vaccines.”
Villamer added: “That takes a lot because coming from a Senate Majority Leader, usually his agenda is priority. He was confident about it and said: ‘You can even tell the media about it because I’m very sure that we are going to give it to you.’”
“The goal is really to reach the farthest communities. The goal is really to reach those who do not have access at the moment. We need to reach the farthest community,” Villamer said.
It can be recalled that according to PH Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez, the Philippines will be part of the first batch to receive donated vaccines from the United States’ surplus supply of shots.
The said donation is part of US President Joe Biden’s earlier pledge to have some 80 million vaccines delivered overseas by the end of June as part of their strategy to respond to the coronavirus pandemic.
To this, De Lima remarked: “The US stepping up in its donation of vaccines to various countries bring a lot of hope and heighten the confidence of many that we can put an end to this pandemic soon.” (AI/MTVN)