The government will not lift the overseas deployment ban of nurses and other health workers anytime soon.
Presidential Spokesperson Atty. Harry Roque said this in a virtual press briefing on Tuesday, in reaction to the call of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. to lift the ban.
“I don’t think the deployment ban would be lifted yet. This was discussed by the IATF and we all concurred with the opinion of the President except for Secretary Locsin,” he said, referring to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).
Roque said that the primary reason for the deployment ban was to ensure the health and safety of nurses since Coronavirus Diseases 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the Philippines are relatively lower than those abroad.
According to the latest data of the Department of Health, the country has 220,819 confirmed COVID-19 infections with 157,559 recoveries and 3,563 deaths.
“It is to protect the health and lives of our front-liners, primarily. The need for nurses and medical professionals in the country is only secondary,” he said.
In an interview over CNN on August 28, Locsin pledged to fight for the plight of health care workers even if he had conflicting views with the IATF.
“I said, in that case, pay for it. I don’t mean pay peanuts for it, I mean pay big money if you want (to) keep them in reserve. (We) cannot hold a section of our population hostage for that eventuality,” Locsin said.
Roque said that the President respects the opinion of Locsin as he “encourages free thought even amongst the Cabinet secretaries, especially on matters that do not fall within their primary jurisdiction.”