Healthcare workers have found another ally in Senator Nancy Binay who called for the lifting of the overseas deployment ban on Wednesday, August 27.
In a press statement, Binay urged the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) to recall its deployment ban on healthcare workers.
Last April 2020, POEA issued Resolution No. 09, temporarily suspending the deployment of all health care workers “until the national state of emergency is lifted and until Covid 19-related travel restrictions are lifted at the destination countries”.
Based on the resolution, only those who have existing contracts abroad and those new hires who have completed their papers before March 8 are allowed to leave the country.
IATF likewise issued Resolution No. 64 temporarily suspended the deployment of medical professionals.
Binay said that the government has no right to prevent healthcare workers from working abroad to provide for the needs of their families.
“For healthcare workers, the struggle to survive is real in the midst of risks and trying to feed a family. Sana maunawaan din ng POEA at ng IATF ang kalagayan ng ating mga nurse na ‘di lang naman sila full-time sa ospital. Sa totoo lang, mas mabigat ang pressure kung paano maitatawid ang kanilang mga pamilya sa gitna ng pandemya. Yung travel ban hostages their chance to have a decent work-life balance and give their families a better future,” she pointed out.
Should the POEA insist on continuing the deployment ban, the government must ensure that healthcare workers in the country are given competitive compensation.
“Hindi naman gugustuhin ng ating mga healthcare workers na magtrabaho sa ibang bansa kung sapat ang kanilang kinikita dito sa atin. May pandemya po at sino ba naman ang gustong mawalay sa kanilang mahal sa buhay sa panahon ngayon?” Binay said.
“They have long been neglected. Kung itutuloy nila ang deployment ban, at the very least the government should provide our healthcare workers with compensation sufficient enough to provide for their families,” she added.
The senator also allayed fears that the Philippines would lack healthcare workers should the ban be lifted. She cited 2017 data from the Department of Health showing that there are over 750,000 licensed medical professionals in the country, including dentists, med technologists, pharmacists, physicians, and midwives.
Of this number, only 204,437 are active in the health sector, meaning more than 500,000 licensed medical professionals are not practicing their craft.
“Kung hindi kaya ng pamahalaan na mabigyan ng trabaho at sapat na benepisyo ang ating mga healthcare workers, hindi naman ata tama na pagkaitan natin sila ng pagkakataon para mabigyan ng magandang buhay ang kanilang pamilya.”