MANILA, Philippines – Overseas Filipino nurses are calling on the government to amend a deployment ban that had been tweaked to allow health workers to leave the Philippines, saying additional guidelines continue to leave them stranded in the country.
Their appeal comes after the government’s coronavirus task force earlier said that it was easing the ban imposed on health workers to allow those with existing contracts as of March 8 to leave the Philippines.
Despite this, many nurses say they are still unable to go to their jobs overseas as the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency (POEA) said in an April 20 advisory that aside from existing contracts, health workers would also need to have signed or applied for an overseas employment certificate before March 8. (READ: PH deployment ban scars nurses during pandemic)
Without this, health workers would not be able to leave the Philippines.
Nurses once again appealed to Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr, who earlier fought the total deployment ban on health workers. The Department of Foreign Affairs chief had called it an “abomination” and a violation of the Constitution.
Locsin vowed to help affected nurses and health workers once more.
“Give me a little time. At the next IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) [meeting],” Locsin tweeted on Friday, May 1, in response to a nurse who requested for his assistance.
Nurses appealed to Locsin for help on Twitter, with many of them saying they had spent thousands of pesos and had waited months for visas that were about to expire before leaving the Philippines.
“Nurse since 2014 from volunteer nurse, trainee (P150/day), probationary, till I was hired as regular nurse. Prepared 1 1/2 (years) so I can work overseas. Currently with (a) visa but can’t exit PH due to travel ban of medical workers. Please help us,” a nurse said on Twitter.
Another nurse with the username “april_vito13” also called the attention of Locsin, who responded to her message which said “Help us do something with this injustice. We are already aware of the risks we are taking. Now let us do as we should to secure our families’ future. #PRISONURSE“
I don't see why. You've chosen the hardest profession to learn and practice, one that taps not just mind and the body but the heart. Other professions are just jobs. https://t.co/p8algvXWmk
I don't see why. You've chosen the hardest profession to learn and practice, one that taps not just mind and the body but the heart. Other professions are just jobs. https://t.co/p8algvXWmk— Teddy Locsin Jr. (@teddyboylocsin) May 1, 2020
Nurses once again signed an online petition urging the POEA to change its guidelines and allow health workers to leave the Philippines as long as they had existing contracts as of March 8.
Rappler has sought the comment of POEA Adminstrator Bernard Olalia who has yet to respond as of posting.
As of Friday, the Philippines has counted 8,772 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 579 deaths and 1,084 recoveries.
The number of infections worldwide surpassed 3 million while over 233,000 people have died across 190 countries and territories. – Rappler.com