By Vanne Elaine Terrazola
Senator Joel Villanueva lauded the executive department’s reconsideration of its earlier move to prohibit healthcare workers from leaving the country.
The chair of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development said he was glad that the government decided to allow Filipino overseas health workers with existing contracts to return to their jobs abroad.
Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr., who vocally opposed the temporary travel ban for health workers, disclosed this following a meeting of the Interagency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Disease Monday.
“We’re glad about this latest development because the sweeping ban on the deployment of health workers, especially those with existing employment contracts, puts them at risk of losing their jobs abroad, as well as the great economic impact to them for their lost income while the ban is in place,” Villanueva said in a statement issued hours after Locsin’s announcement on Twitter.
On the other hand, he reiterated his appeal for concerned government agencies to trace all the unemployed healthcare workers to augment the country’s workforce fighting the COVID-19.
“Deploy them to the frontlines with commensurate pay and benefits,” Villanueva pointed out.
Locsin said the government will freeze “future applications” until further notice, “provided all our 450,000+ nurses —exceeding by 250,000 ideal (World Health Organization) ratio of people-to-nurses — must be given employment.”
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the lifting of deployment ban on health workers was subject to President Duterte’s approval, although he noted that the President has not yet rejected any recommendations from the IATF.