Binay urges government to lift ban on health workers’ deployment

Senator Nancy Binay on Thursday urged the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for COVID-19 to recall its deployment ban on healthcare workers.

Senator Nancy Binay (Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Binay said the government has no right to prevent healthcare workers from working abroad to provide for the needs of their families.

"For healthcare workers, the struggle to survive is real in the midst of risks and trying to feed a family,” Binay said in a statement.

The senator said the government’s travel ban on healthcare workers hostages their chance to have a decent work-life balance and give their families a better future.

“Sana maunawaan din ng POEA at ng IATF ang kalagayan ng ating mga nurse na 'di lang naman sila full-time sa ospital. Sa totoo lang, mas mabigat ang pressure kung paano maitatawid ang kanilang mga pamilya sa gitna ng pandemya (I hope the POEA and the IATF understands the plight of our nurses that they are not just working full-time in hospitals. In reality, they face the bigger pressure of trying to know how they can help their family survive in the midst of a pandemic),” she said.

Should the POEA insist on continuing the deployment ban, Binay said the government should make sure that healthcare workers in the country are given competitive salary.

She explained that Filipino healthcare workers have long been neglected by the government and if they push through with a deployment ban, at the very least, they should be provide with a compensation sufficient enough to provide for their families.

"Hindi naman gugustuhin ng ating mga healthcare workers na magtrabaho sa ibang bansa kung sapat ang kanilang kinikita dito sa atin (I’m certain that our healthcare workers do not want to leave and work in other countries if they receive sufficient wages here),” she pointed out.

“May pandemya po at sino ba naman ang gustong mawalay sa kanilang mahal sa buhay sa panahon ngayon? (There’s a pandemic and who wants to be away from their loved ones during these times?)" she further said.

Binay also rejected government concerns that the Philippines would lack healthcare workers should the ban be lifted.

She said a 2017 data from the Department of Health (DOH) shows that there are over 750,000 licensed medical professionals in the country, including dentists, med technologists, pharmacists, physicians, and midwives.

Of this number, Binay pointed out only 204,437 are active in the health sector. This means more than 500,000 licensed medical professionals are not practicing their craft.

"Kung hindi kaya ng pamahalaan na mabigyan ng trabaho at sapat na benepisyo ang ating mga healthcare workers, hindi naman ata tama na pagkaitan natin sila ng pagkakataon para mabigyan ng magandang buhay ang kanilang pamilya (If the government cannot provide our healthcare workers with jobs and benefits, I think it’s not right that they are deprived of a chance to give their families a better life),” the lawmaker stressed.