Healthcare professionals with verified work contracts, returning workers allowed to travel abroad --- Roque

Healthcare professionals with verified work contracts as of March 8 as well as workers returning to their employers abroad are allowed to leave the country, Malacañang announced Thursday.


These specific workers will be exempted from the deployment ban of medical and allied health professionals during the coronavirus  health emergency based on the latest decision of the Inter-Agency task force for the Management of Infectious Diseases (IATF) according to Presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

The government task force held a meeting Thursday on the matter following the appeal raised by a group of nurses for the government to ease the restriction on the overseas deployment.

“Yung mga health professionals na meron na silang mga OEC (overseas employment certificates) issued po ng POEA (Philippine Overseas Employment Administration) at meron na pong verified employment contract as of March 8, 2020 ay pupwede pong lumabas ng bansa (The health professionals with OEC issued by POEA and verified employment contract as of March 8, 2020 may leave the country)," Roque said over state television Thursday.

"Pwede rin pong lumabas ng bansa ang mga balik manggagawa o yung mga nagbabakasyon lamang sa Pilipinas at matagal na pong nagtatrabaho sa abroad (The returning workers or those vacationing in the Philippines and have long been working abroad may also leave the country)," he added.

Other health workers who have no such work contract on or before March 8 will remain covered by the deployment ban abroad, Roque said.

Early this week, the IATF issued Resolution No. 64 stating the overseas deployment of medical and allied health workers is temporarily suspended "considering the continuing state of public health emergency.”   The task force has enjoined the Department of Health and other hospitals and healthcare facilities hire these medical and allied health workers to supplement their workforce.

Back in April, the task force allowed health workers with perfected and signed work contracts as of March 8 to be deployed abroad. These health workers however must complete a declaration signifying their knowledge and understanding of the risks involved in returning to their work abroad. The decision was contained in IATF resolution No. 23.

The partial deployment of health workers came after the POEA governing board released a resolution temporarily suspending the deployment of doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers until the national state of emergency is lifted. The board said the country's health facilities and personnel were "under severe strain" due to rising coronavirus infections.

"It is of paramount national interest to ensure that the country shall continue to have, sustain the supply, and prepare sufficient health personnel to meet any further contingencies, especially to replace, substitute or reinforce existing workforce currently employed, deployed or utilized locally," the POEA board said in the resolution signed last April 2.