President Rodrigo Duterte has allowed nurses and other healthcare workers with complete documents as of Aug. 31 to leave and work overseas, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President approved the proposal of Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) to extend the exemption period for healthcare workers from the temporary deployment ban.
“Nakinig naman po ang Presidente sa hinaing ng mga nurses. So ‘yung mga meron na pong mga papeles at kumpletong documentation as of Aug. 31, 2020 pinayagan na po ni Presidente na makaalis para sa kanilang trabaho abroad (The President has heeded the call of nurses. So those with papers and complete documents as of Aug. 31, 2020 are now allowed to leave to work abroad),” Roque said in a press briefing from Cagayan de Oro City.
According to Roque, the exemption period was extended to allow healthcare workers who have already spent to have their documents the chance to get their money’s worth.
“So wala na pong pupuwedeng magreklamo na nagkaroon sila ng gastos tapos hindi sila nakaalis (So there would no longer be any complaints that they have spent for their papers but are being banned from leaving the country),” he said.
He, however, said Duterte has yet to make a decision on the total lifting of the deployment ban.
“Wala pa pong desisyon sa total lifting, pinagbigyan lang po iyong nakagastos na para sa mga papeles (There is no decision on the total lifting, we simply allowed those who have already spent for their papers),” he said.
Quoting Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Roque said 1,500 nurses and other healthcare professionals are expected to benefit from the extended exemption period.
The POEA earlier recommended extending the exemption period for healthcare workers from the temporary deployment ban to Aug. 31, 2020.
Previously, only healthcare workers with perfected and signed overseas employment contracts as of March 8, 2020 were allowed for deployment abroad.
The suspension on the deployment of health workers was implemented to ensure the health and safety of nurses since coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the Philippines are relatively lower than those abroad.
As of Monday, the Philippines has a total of 286,743 confirmed Covid-19 cases of which 4,984 are deaths and 229,865 recoveries.
It was also implemented to ensure that the country has a sufficient number of workers amid the pandemic.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. has been very vocal about pushing for the lifting of the deployment ban on nurses, stressing that it is unconstitutional to deny nurses of their right to earn a living overseas.
He said nurses and other healthcare workers should be paid “big money” if the government wants them to work in their homeland.
Healthcare workers have been calling for the lifting of the temporary deployment ban as many of them remain underemployed or unemployed. (PNA)