Health workers with contracts as of March 8 can leave PH

Sofia Tomacruz
Health workers with contracts as of March 8 can leave PH
The government's coronavirus task force says the Department of Health will also facilitate the emergency hiring of health workers to assist in caring for the increasing number of coronavirus patients

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government is allowing all health workers with existing contracts as of March 8 to leave the country for work aboard.  

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, the spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force  on the coronavirus pandemic, said on Tuesday, April 14, that the IATF adopted a resolution easing restrictions on the deployment ban against health workers. (READ: PH to lift deployment ban on health workers with existing contracts)

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

Other workers who do not have signed contracts as of March 8 will be covered by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration’s (POEA) deployment ban on health care workers as the country struggles to contain the rising number of coronavirus patients.

Nograles said health workers who will leave for abroad will need to complete a declaration signifying they know and understand the risks involved in going abroad, as advised by the Philippine government.  

The government modified the travel ban amid outrage over the sudden implementation of the new policy on Friday, April 10, when nurses serving the UK’s National Health Service were barred from catching their flight at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Among those who opposed the deployment ban was Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr who vowed to “fight” it as it violated the Constitution.

Many of these workers, among them nurses, have opted to work abroad due to low wages and poor working conditions in their home country.

Nograles touted the IATF decision to ease restrictions on those with existing contracts as a “win-win” solution resulting from discussions on the needs of the Philippines during the coronavirus outbreak, as well as relevant laws on Filipinos’ right to work overseas.  

Alongside this, Nograles said the Department of Health was ordered to undergo the emergency hiring of health workers to assist in caring for the increasing number of coronavirus patients. Hiring will be subject to review by the  Department of Budget and Management. 

Despite this, President Rodrigo Duterte sid while he was “okay” with the decision of health workers to leave, he appealed to them to remain in the country during the coronavirus outbreak. 

As of Monday, the Philippines has 4,932 coronavirus cases, with 315 deaths and 242 recoveries. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.