Palace: Ban on deployment of health workers stays
Healthcare workers who have secured overseas employment contracts and travel documents before March 8 can leave the country to work abroad but the controversial deployment ban on healthcare workers will remain in place, Malacañang reiterated on Thursday.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said “health professionals with overseas employment certificates issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and verified employment contract as of March 8 can leave the country” for overseas employment.
“The Balik Manggagawa, or those who have been working abroad and are temporarily here for a vacation, can also leave the country,” Roque reiterated.
He made the announcement after a meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to discuss healthcare workers’ appeal to lift the overseas deployment ban.
Earlier in the day, Roque said the IATF will discuss whether the government will grant exemptions to the deployment ban on healthcare workers previously imposed by the POEA.
In his televised announcement on Thursday afternoon, he said the overseas deployment ban on healthcare workers would remain in effect for health professionals “if they do not have the required documents on or before March 8, 2020.”
Vital human resource
The Palace official’s announcement was a reiteration of an April announcement that healthcare workers with existing overseas employment contracts as of March 8 may depart for their jobs. Cabinet Secretary and IATF spokesperson Karlo Nograles said departing health professionals should sign a declaration recognizing the risks of traveling and working abroad.
Earlier this year, the POEA suspended the deployment of doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers abroad to preserve human resources in fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic.
This is until the state of emergency is lifted and until pandemic-related travel restrictions are eased in the destination countries.
Healthcare workers’ organizations, however, have renewed their appeals to lift the overseas deployment ban, saying there are no more jobs left for them here.
Appeal to patriotism
Filipino Nurses United (FNU) said the government has no right to force healthcare workers to stay if there are better opportunities abroad for them to uplift the economic situation of their families. FNU said many nurses have heeded the government’s emergency hiring of health-care workers, but positions have been filled.
The Palace, however, appealed to the healthcare workers’ patriotism and love for their families in choosing to serve here as medical front-liners against the pandemic.
Roque noted that the salaries of nurses in government hospitals have increased and that benefits, such as hazard allowances, free testing, and housing for healthcare workers are provided for them because of the pandemic.
“I think, in a time of pandemic, the nationalism of our nurses will prevail … Even if the health workers leave for jobs abroad, they will leave behind their loved ones here. I hope the health professionals will take that into consideration, that no one will attend to their families if health workers are needed. I hope that prevails in their hearts,” he said.
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