Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Saturday said President Duterte has approved the proposal to lift the temporary suspension of deployment of healthcare workers (HCWs) but the Philippines will only allow 5,000 to leave every year to ensure that there are enough HCWs in the country during a health emergency.
In a radio interview, Bello said that newly hired Filipinos or those with contracts in the medical sectors are now allowed to leave the country.
“The President has ordered the lifting of the temporary suspension on the deployment of nurses and other medical workers. The ambassadors of Germany, the United Kingdom, and Italy have been requesting for that because they badly need our nurses,” Bello said.
He added that Filipinos are the most sought-after medical workers in the world.
“Not only those with contracts are allowed to report to their work abroad, but also new applicants. All of them, they are allowed to leave,” he added.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) imposed in April a temporary suspension in the deployment for selected types of health workers citing the dwindling human resources in local hospitals and medical facilities amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the list are medical doctor/physician, nurse, microbiologist molecular biologist, medical technologist, clinical analyst, respiratory therapist, pharmacist, laboratory technician, X-ray/radiologic technician, nursing assistant/nursing aide, operator of medical equipment, supervisor of health services and personal care, and repairman of medical-hospital equipment.
The Inter-Agency Task Force later ordered the exemption of healthcare workers with perfected and signed contract as of March 8 from the temporary suspension imposed by the POEA.
Malacañang later announced that healthcare workers with complete documents, as of August 31, are also allowed to be deployed.
Bello, last month, also revealed that President Duterte has already approved the request of medical workers to further extend the cut-off date from the deadline of August 31.
Last week, Bello said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has recommended to the President to lift the temporary ban.
No limit to lifting of deployment ban
Although thankful that the suspension on the deployment of healthcare workers has already been lifted, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant People questioned the decision to impose a limit on the deployment.
“We, at CBCP-ECMI, are very grateful to the President for lifting of the suspension on deployment of HCWs. We have always appealed before and affirm that, with already existing contracts, it should not be suspended for deployment,” CBCP ECMI vice chairman Bishop Ruperto Santos said in an interview.
“Now, as the President lifted it, why limit it or put a number on it?” he added.
If the reason is to be sure that the country will have enough number of medical professionals amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) health crisis, the Balanga prelate believes there are other ways to do this such as improving their working conditions here.
“To entice them to remain here is to improve their working conditions and security, better benefits and promotion of their welfare,” said Santos.
Another, he said, is by making it mandatory for fresh graduates to serve their countrymen first.
“Let it be a rule that the fresh graduates should work here at least a year before they look for works abroad,” Santos said. (With PNA)