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Health workers with contracts as of March 8 are now allowed to go abroad

POEA chief Bernard Olalia said that this resolution will be effective “until the national state of emergency is lifted and travel restrictions are lifted at the destination countries.”

In a virtual briefing on Tuesday, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said that the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration resolution, which prohibits 14 different categories of healthcare professionals from going abroad is not applicable to allied healthcare workers that have contracts as of March 8, 2020.

“All medical and allied healthcare professionals with perfected and signed overseas employment contracts as of March 8, 2020 shall be allowed for deployment abroad,” said Nograles.

The government mentioned that health workers will be signing a declaration knowing the risks involved when going abroad.

POEA chief Bernard Olalia said that this resolution will be effective “until the national state of emergency is lifted and travel restrictions are lifted at the destination countries.”

The deployment ban covers the following professionals:

  • Doctors
  • Nurses
  • Microbiologists
  • Molecular biologists
  • Medical technologists
  • Clinical analysts
  • Respiratory therapists
  • Pharmacists
  • Laboratory technicians
  • Radiologic technicians
  • Nursing assistants
  • Medical equipment operators
  • Supervisor of health services and personal care
  • Repairmen of medical hospital equipment

The resolution has been implemented to manage the COVID-19 issues in the country.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr confirmed the resolution, saying that health workers have the right to work.

“Future applications frozen until notice provided all our 450,000+ nurses—exceeding by 250,000 ideal [World Health Organization] ratio of people-to-nurses—must be given employment.”

However, Locsin didn’t always agree with the resolution and even went as far as to say that it was an ‘abomination’.

“We will fight the ban in Cabinet. We will fight shit for brains. We will never surrender our constitutional right to travel and our contractual right to work where there is need for our work,”

The Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases has also urged the Department of Health to recruit more health workers for more manpower.

President Rodrigo Duterte reported to Congress, a requirement of the ‘Bayanihan’ Act that gave him sweeping powers to address the novel coronavirus pandemic, that the Health Department will hire 857 healthcare workers, under a contract of service.

These health workers will be deployed to the designated Lung Center of the Philippines, the Philippine General Hospital, and the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Medical.

Before the resolution had an exemption, millions were angry and felt that the health workers had a giant restriction over them.

Netizens agree with Locsin that health workers should be allowed to leave the country.

One netizen thinks it’s very selfish to prevent health workers from going abroad.

Health workers in the country have worked hard to get to where they are today, and end up as objects of exploitation due to the poor salary. But most have chosen to serve the country first before going abroad for better opportunities.

The obvious reason for health workers choosing to work abroad is the difference in salary. Nurses only get paid a pittance working in the Philippines, but it is a much different story when they are abroad.

Most netizens emphasized the problem with the salary which has been laughable.

It is true that government hospitals pay their health workers better than private ones, but one netizen says that it is nearly impossible to get a position in those health facilities unless you know someone on the inside. He also emphasized the difference in salary.

One netizen compared the barring of health workers from working abroad to slavery.

Written by Charles Teves

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