Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday clarified a remark he made urging Filipino nurses affected by the deployment ban to “prove their worth” by gaining clinical experience in the Philippines before deciding to work abroad.
Roque said he did not intend to insult nurses, noting that he was only urging them to gain experience by attending to fellow Filipinos first since it would make them in high demand by foreign employers.
“The transcript would bear me out that it was very clear from the message and the intent of my response that I asked Filipino healthcare workers to first gain clinical experience in the Philippines, especially during this time of Covid-19,” he said in a statement.
He said staying to work here would not only give them more experience, but also open opportunities to be easily recruited overseas.
“By equipping/acquiring themselves with the skills and competence their profession entails, they have not only helped our people during this time of global health emergency crisis, but they, too, would have been provided the work experience that would open doors for opportunities for overseas employment,” he added.
Roque said healthcare workers deserve all the praise for their “dedicated and compassionate service” as front-liners in the fight against Covid-19.
“We consider them our modern-day heroes as they have responded to the call of duty during these challenging times,” he said.
On Monday, Roque urged nurses to avail of the emergency hiring program of the Department of Health (DOH) to help boost their chances of landing a job abroad when the deployment ban is lifted.
“Sa tingin ko po kung kayo ay mag-apply dito sa emergency recruitment ng ating gobyerno at nagtrabaho po habang may Covid, naku, pag-aagawan po kayo lalo pag natapos po itong pandemic na ito (I think that if you apply for a job in the emergency recruitment of our government and work while we continue to grapple with Covid, you’ll even be more sought-after when this pandemic is over),” he said in a virtual Palace briefing.
He also sought nurses understanding since government is also looking for their safety by preventing them to work in countries with higher cases of Covid-19.
Healthcare workers should also take into consideration their duty to serve fellow Filipinos first since “charity begins at home.”
As part of efforts to entice healthcare workers to work here, the government vowed to provide additional benefits such as risk allowance, PHP15,000 for those who get infected with Covid-19, life insurance, free accommodation and transportation, and free and regular testing for all medical front-liners.
The government plans to hire 10,000 healthcare workers to augment the current workforce.
Earlier, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) issued Resolution 09, temporarily suspending the deployment of all healthcare workers “until the national state of emergency is lifted”.
Only healthcare workers with perfected and signed overseas employment contracts as of March 8 are allowed to leave the country.
The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases also released resolution No. 64 temporarily suspending the deployment of healthcare workers. (PNA)