Just three days after reimposing total ban for overseas deployment of health workers, Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) reversed its decision and exempts those who were able to secure employment contracts as of March 8.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the IATF-EID on Thursday agreed to allow health workers with overseas employment certificate (OEC) issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and verified employment contracts as of March 8 to leave the country.
“Health professionals who secure OEC issued by POEA and have verified employment contract as of March 8, 2020 can leave the country,” Roque said in announcement aired on state-run PTV-4.
Roque’s latest announcement came just hours after he said the IATF-EID would take into consideration the nurses’ appeals to grant exemptions to medical professionals with existing employment contracts.
The IATF-EID’s Resolution 64 temporarily suspends the overseas deployment of health workers during the pandemic “considering the continuing state of public health emergency.”
The task force, based on the resolution, also urges the Department of Health and government hospitals to hire healthcare workers to augment the workforce as coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in the country continue to soar.
The POEA earlier issued Resolution 09, which orders the temporary ban on the overseas deployment of medical workers abroad in a bid to ramp up the health workforce in the country amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the POEA’s Resolution 09, the deployment ban is effective “until the national state of emergency is lifted and until the Covid-19-related travel restrictions are lifted at the destination countries.”
Roque said the resolution issued by POEA “prevails.”
“Workers who returned to the Philippines for vacation or are working abroad for a long time can also leave the country,” he said.
In a virtual presser early Thursday, Roque said he believes that the sense of nationalism of the nurses will prevail amid the pandemic.
“I think at a time of pandemic, nationalism will prevail in the hearts and feelings of our nurses,” Roque said.
Roque made this statement after Filipino Nurses United sought for the lifting of the deployment ban on healthcare workers as many of them remain unemployed.
Roque said the government is already providing healthcare workers additional benefits such as risk allowance, PHP15,000 for those who get infected with Covid-19, life insurance, free accommodation and transportation, and free and frequent testing.
He emphasized that once the Bayanihan 2 legislation is passed, healthcare workers in the private sector would also get salaries and benefits as competitive as those in the public sector. (By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos, PNA)