MANILA, Philippines – The COVID-19 task force (IATF) has raised the annual ceiling on deployment of new hire healthcare workers to 7,000, acting presidential spokesperson Secretary Karlo Nograles said during his briefing on Friday, December 10.
According to Nograles, the increase in the hiring of healthcare workers was based on the IATF Resolution No. 153 signed on December 9.
“Upon the authority vested to the IATF through Memorandum from the Executive Secretary dated 20 November 2020, the 2021 annual deployment ceiling of new hire healthcare workers (HCWs) for occupations identified by the Department of Labor and Employment as Mission Critical Skills (MCS) shall be further increased to seven thousand (7,000),” the resolution read.
The resolution added 500 more slots to the previous deployment cap of 6,500 announced in June this year. Healthcare workers for overseas deployment under government-to-government labor agreements will not be covered by the ceiling.
Meanwhile, according to the same resolution, nurses will be given preference: “Nurses whose visas shall expire by 31 December 2021 shall be given preference.”
In June, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said he would ask the COVID-19 task force to raise the ceiling to 10,000 slots. Bello lobbied to the nurses group that he would ask for 5,000 more health workers to be deployed overseas in 2021.
In total, the new 7,000 deployment ceiling was still a far cry from Bello’s promise. During the start of the pandemic, the government prohibited Filipino healthcare workers from working overseas, because according to President Rodrigo Duterte, they were needed to address the pandemic.
Nurses are among the more than 10 million Filipinos who chose to work overseas. The nurses’ sector was estimatedly to remit more than $30 billion, which was considered as a key driver for the country’s economy.
Based on government data, almost 17,000 Filipino nurses had signed contracts overseas in 2019. – Rappler.com