POEA recommends deployment of healthcare workers with completed contracts

Published September 10, 2020, 12:42 PM

by Leslie Aquino, Hannah Torregoza, & Genalyn Kabiling

Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III has endorsed the recommendation of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to allow the deployment abroad of health care workers with completed contracts as of Aug. 31 to the Inter-Agency Task Force.

“Nag-appeal ang mga nurses at medical workers natin. Dahil dito, nag-recommend ang POEA, through a governing board resolution, na kung maari ay i-extend ang cut-off to Aug. 31. ‘Yung may kumpletong papeles as of Aug. 31 ay puwede na umalis (Due to the appeal of nurses and medical workers, the POEA, through a governing board resolution, recommended to extend the cut-off period to Aug. 31. So those who completed their papers as of Aug. 31 can leave),” Bello said.

“Recommendation pa lang ito ng POEA. And I submitted that recommendation to the IATF with my support. In other words, I favorably endorsed that recommendation to the IATF (This is just a recommendation from POEA. And I submitted that recommendation to the IATF with my support. In other words, I favorably endorsed that recommendation to the IATF),” added Bello.

He believes the IATF will approve the recommendation.

“I am confident na the IATF will also approve it. Dahil pinakita naman namin na if we will allow them na mga nakakumpleto ng papeles as of Aug. 31, mga 1,200 nurses lang naman ang mapapadeploy natin. Kaya di masyado malaki ang bawas sa ating medical workers dito (I am confident that the IATF will also approve it. We also showed that if we will allow those who completed their papers as of Aug. 31, only  1,200 nurses will be deployed. It will not greatly affect the number of our medical workers here),” Bello said.

Bello said the IATF is expected to meet today and hopefully act on the matter.

“Palagay ko, may meeting kasi bukas, baka maaksyunan favorably. Subject of course to the approval of the President pa din (I think there is a meeting tomorrow, they might act on it favorably. Subject of course to the approval of the president),” said Bello.

The POEA imposed a deployment ban on selected types of health workers last April, citing the dwindling human resources in local hospitals and medical facilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

These are medical doctors and physician, nurses, microbiologists, molecular biologists, medical technologists, clinical analysts, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, laboratory technicians, X-ray and radiologic technicians, nursing assistants and nursing aides, operators of medical equipment, supervisors of health services and personal care, and repairmen of medical and hospital equipment.

The IATF later exempted healthcare workers with perfected and signed contract as of March 8 from the deployment ban imposed by the POEA.

Final say

President Duterte will have the final say if the government will relax the deployment ban on Filipino health workers abroad.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque admitted that the proposal to allow nurses with valid contracts as of August 28 has already been discussed by the government task force. The proposal to extend the exemption period, however, must still be raised to the President for his decision, according to Roque.

“Napag-usapan po iyan kasi mayroong proposal na ang i-allow, ito po ay proposal lamang ‘no, i-allow iyong mga nurses na naayos na ang papel as of August 28 (It has been discussed because there is a proposal to allow the nurses with contracts as of August 28),” Roque said during a televised press briefing.

“Pero kinakailangan po na kukonsultahin ang Presidente kasi iyong desisyon po na mag-impose muna ng moratorium ay desisyon po ng
Presidente at ayaw naman naming pangunahan po ang ating Presidente (But the President will still be consulted because the decision to impose the moratorium was the President’s and we don’t want to preempt the President),” he said.

The POEA imposed a deployment ban on selected types of health workers last April, citing the dwindling human resources in local hospitals and medical facilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

These are medical doctors and physicians, nurses, microbiologists, molecular biologists, medical technologists, clinical analysts, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, laboratory technicians, X-ray and radiologic technicians, nursing assistants and nursing aides, operators of medical equipment, supervisors of health services and personal care, and repairmen of medical and hospital equipment.

The IATF later exempted healthcare workers with perfected and signed contracts as of March 8 from the deployment ban imposed by the POEA.

Probe on deployment ban

Sen. Nancy Binay has sought a Senate inquiry on the government’s temporary deployment ban on healthcare workers that has been imposed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).

Binay made the call through Senate Resolution No. 514 after Immigration officials barred seven Filipino nurses bound for United Kingdom where they have employment contracts from leaving the Philippines despite their supposed exemption from the ban.

The POEA and IATF, Binay said, has to provide specific guidelines on their policy on the deployment ban.

“Nais nating malaman kung ano ang naging guidance ng POEA at IATF sa kanilang policy on the deployment ban (We want to know what are the specific guidelines of the POEA and the IATF regarding this deployment ban policy),” Binay said.

“’Yung latest incident na inoffload sa eroplano ang ilang (The latest offloading incident involving) UK-bound nurses only shows that the policy is disjointed and conflicting and its implementation is prone to lapses,” she added.

Binay had earlier urged the lifting of the deployment ban and insisted that the government has no right to prevent healthcare workers from
working abroad to provide for the needs of their families.

The Philippine Nurses Association has also appealed to the government to allow 600 nurses to leave the country.

“We must not hold hostage our healthcare workers’ desire for a better life for their families. Hindi natin dapat ipilit na isakripisyo nila ang pangarap para lang isugal ang buhay nila sa sistemang walang sapat na proteksyon para sa kanila (We should not insist that they sacrifice their own dreams for their families just to give up their lives on a system that does not provide sufficient protection for them),” Binay said.

 
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