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MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) is considering a program where countries that want to hire Filipino nurses must contribute to a fund that would give scholarships to aspiring nurses.
Noting that there is a high demand for Filipino nurses in countries such as Canada, Singapore, and Japan, Migrant Workers Secretary Susan “Toots” Ople and Assistant Secretary Mario Zinampan said in a media briefing on Tuesday, June 13, that an inclusion like this could be added in bilateral labor agreements.
Ople described the contributions though as “semi-voluntary.”
“When we negotiate, we make it a point that we incorporate in all the bilateral labor agreements a provision that those requiring or asking for nurses from us, should contribute to the scholarship fund,” said Zinampan.
Ople added, “Initially, we are thinking of making it part of the bilateral labor agreement, but we are not imposing any amount. So it will be, parang semi-voluntary [as well, because] we’re not pegging any amount. We just want to kick it off, and then later on, we can see the fair mechanism for [it].”
Ople said that she wanted to avoid a type of set-up where there is a mandated minimum fee for countries that want to hire nurses from the Philippines.
“We want it to be [a] progressive kind of fund wherein it’s like, let their social conscience dictate at least why we are starting off,” she said.
The DMW said that it is waiting for the reaction of the Commission on Higher Education, which would collaborate with the DMW in implementing the nurse scholarship program.
Meanwhile, newly appointed Health Secretary Ted Herbosa earlier said in an episode of ANC’s Headstart that the Philippines should be paying Filipino nurses more competitively so that they do not have to go abroad.
“Our nurses are world class. They’re being asked [for] by presidents of other countries. They should be serving the Filipino people. We should be the ones paying them the salaries those guys are paying,” said Herbosa on June 8.
“If a nurse wants to go abroad to get a salary that I cannot give, I shouldn’t stop that person, because what I should look at is, why am I not able to pay the same amount so that they can be here in their own country?” he added.
The Philippines is one of the world’s top suppliers of nurses. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Duterte administration set a cap on yearly deployment of health workers, with revisions of up to 7,000. Senator Joel Villanueva in October 2022 questioned the basis of the cap, noting that the country had a shortage of 106,000 nurses in its facilities and hospitals. – Rappler.com