The national government is reminding Filipino healthcare workers of a temporary deployment ban in the wake of the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
Under Resolution No. 64, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) temporarily suspended the deployment of medical professionals.
“Considering the continuing State of Public Health Emergency, the overseas deployment of the medical and allied health workers is hereby temporarily suspended pursuant to the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration Governing Board Resolution No. 09, series of 2020,” the resolution read.
The resolution also urged the Department of Health (DOH) and government hospitals to hire healthcare workers to augment the workforce as cases soared to over 160,000.
“For this purpose, the DOH and all hospitals and healthcare facilities of local government units and entities are enjoined to hire these medical and allied health workers to supplement their current workforce,” it added.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) earlier issued Resolution 09, temporarily suspending the deployment of all healthcare workers “until the national state of emergency is lifted.”
IATF-EID eventually allowed healthcare workers with perfected and signed overseas employment contracts as of March 8 to work abroad.
In a virtual Palace briefing on Tuesday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Resolution 64 was merely a “reiteration” of the POEA resolution.
“Matagal na pong suspendido ng POEA ang deployment. Hindi po sila nagpa-process ng mga bagong permits to work abroad for medical professionals (The POEA has long suspended deployment. They’re no longer processing new permits for medical professionals to work abroad),” he said.
Roque said the reason for the suspension is that “charity begins at home”, especially after medical front-liners sought for a “timeout” to prevent the collapse of the country’s healthcare capacity.
“Mas nangangailangan po tayo ngayon ng ating health professionals dahil nga two weeks ago humihingi ang ating mga front-liners (We need our health professionals now more than ever because just two weeks ago, out medical front-liners were seeking for a timeout),” he said.
He said in addition, the government was also looking out for their welfare.
National Task Force (NTF) on Covid-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. emphasized the need to “preserve” healthcare workers to sustain the fight against Covid-19.
“This is a long fight. Kailangan mai-preserve natin ang strength ng ating mga (We need to preserve the strength of our) healthcare workers. If we allow our healthcare workers abroad, there will be a morale problem,” he said.
Galvez also said it is the “heroic duty” of medical professionals to serve the country.
Last May 4, President Rodrigo Duterte said he would discuss with Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra the legality of stopping health workers from leaving the country since he was concerned about welfare.
Malacañang said it is perfectly legal for the President to exercise police powers to stop Filipino health workers from migrating on the basis of their health and safety.
Earlier this month, the Palace announced plans to hire 10,000 healthcare workers to boost the workforce.
Healthcare workers who wish to apply could submit their applications online, Roque said.
The government has vowed to provide additional benefits to healthcare workers, including risk allowance, PHP15,000 for those who get infected with coronavirus, life insurance, free accommodation and transportation, and free and frequent testing. (PNA)