The Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) latest request to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) indicates that Filipino healthcare workers (HCWs) continue to leave the Philippines amid the raging coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III confirmed during a virtual press briefing Monday, Aug. 9 that the agency had requested an additional 1,500 slots to the number of local of HCWs that can be deployed to work abroad.
“On the basis of the need for our destinations for the services of our medical healthcare [workers], eh nag-recommend pa rin kami ng additional increase in the deployment cap (I’ve recommended an additional increase in the deployment cap),” Bello said.
This was the second time that Bello has made a request to increase the annual deployment cap on HCWs, which originally stood at just 5,000.
Last June, the IATF bumped up the cap to 6,500 after hearing the clamor of HCWs via the DOLE to be given more opportunities to gain better-paying jobs abroad. Bello said the limit has already been breached.
“I think umabot na tayo ng [we’ve reached] 6,670-plus,” the DOLE chief said.
Asked how many additional slots he requested from the pandemic task force, he said: “From my experience, when I recommended [an additional] 5,000 [during my first request], they only accommodated 1,500. So as not to make it difficult for the IATF, nag-request na lang ako ng 1,500 (I only requested for 1,500 more).
Bello said he made the request “in consultation with the Philippine Nurses Association”.
He further bared receiving information that his recommendation “has been placed on the agenda” by the technical working group of the IATF, meaning a decision could be made on it soon.
The IATF came up with the annual deployment limit was a way to make sure that the Philippines wouldn’t run out of HCWs amid the ongoing public health crisis.