There is ‘strong clamor’ for Filipino nurses abroad, says Bello
MANILA, Philippines — Other countries are clamoring for the services of Filipino nurses, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III told lawmakers on Thursday as the Philippines temporarily banned the deployment of medical workers overseas.
During the hearing on the proposed 2021 budget of the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) at the Senate, Bello said a lot of countries are reaching out to him to allow the deployment of Filipino nurses.
“There is a strong clamor for the deployment of our nurses. Ang daming mga countries na they’ve been contacting me through their embassies na kung maaari we will allow our nurses to go,” Bello said.
(There is a strong clamor for the deployment of our nurses. There are many countries contacting me through their embassies for us to allow our nurses to go.)
“Kaya lang we have to make sure na before we can send our nurses e meron naman tayong mga nurses that will attend to the medical needs of our countrymen,” he added.
(But we have to make sure that before we allow the total deployment of our nurses, we have enough of them to attend to the medical needs of our own countrymen.)
Earlier, the government suspended the deployment of doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers abroad to preserve human resources in fighting the novel coronavirus pandemic.
But due to recommendations made by DOLE, nurses and medical workers with complete documents as of August 31, 2020, are now allowed to leave the country.
But Senator Joel Villanueva, who was presiding over the hearing and chair of the Senate labor committee, said Filipino nurses are seeking a total lifting of the deployment ban.
“Most of us, especially here in the Senate, we get a lot of letters asking for assistance,” he added.
Bello defended the government’s decision to temporarily ban the overseas deployment of medical workers.
“Ang problema natin kasi most of those being deployed yung mga tinatanggap ng mga receiving countries ay ito yung skilled and experienced nurses. Kapag hindi ka nangkaroon experience of at least two years, ‘di ka tatanggapin,” the labor chief said.
(Our problem is that most of those being deployed and hired by receiving countries are skilled and experienced nurses. If you don’t have a two-year experience, you will not be hired.)
He said the government is worried that nurses with less experience would be left to tend to Filipino patients.
“We have to resort to this temporary suspension para matiyak natin na kapag, halimbawa, sumama itong pandemic na meron tayong mga nurses, doctors and pharmacists who will attend to their medical needs,” Bello said.
(We have to resort to this temporary suspension to ensure that if this pandemic gets worse, we have nurses, doctors, pharmacists who will attend to their medical needs.)
“Mahirap naman yun baka bandang huli, pinalayas natin sila lahat at nagkaron ng problema tayo, baka ako ang kakatayin ng mga tao,” he added.
(It would be hard that in the end, we would allow them to leave and then we would have a problem, the public will go after me.)
Still, Villanueva maintained the need to allow Filipino nurses to leave for higher-paying jobs abroad.
“We understand your position, Secretary. Ang mahirap lang po kasi talaga yung mga nurses natin na, sinasabi na nila prisoners na sila,” the senator said.
(We understand your position, Secretary. But it’s really hard for our nurses, they are saying that they are becoming prisoners.)
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