Health workers' right to travel 'takes backseat' to COVID-19 emergency: POEA

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 13 2020 11:25 AM | Updated as of Apr 13 2020 09:35 PM

Health workers' right to travel 'takes backseat' to COVID-19 emergency: POEA 1
The NAIA Terminal 3 in Pasay City stands virtually empty on March 20, 2020 after the 72-hour window for domestic flights prior to the air travel ban under the enhanced community quarantine of Luzon. Outbound international flights for OFWs and foreigner citizens stuck in the country continue. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – The right to travel "takes a backseat" to public welfare during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government agency that suspended the overseas deployment of health workers said Monday.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration over the weekend suspended the deployment of doctors, nurses and healthcare workers abroad to "prioritize human resource allocation."

Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro Locsin Jr called the POEA's directive an "abomination," adding he would oppose it in the cabinet.

“Yan pong right to travel will take a backseat at yung general welfare po ang mas importante lalong lalo na meron tayong state of public health emergency,” POEA administrator Bernard Olalia told DZMM. 

(The right to travel will take a backseat since the general welfare is more important especially during a state of public health emergency) 

“May option sila na magtabaho sa local at national health system makakatanggap po sila ng hazard pay,” he said.

(They have an option to work at local and national health system. They will receive hazard pay)

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The suspension on overseas deployment covers doctors, nurses, pharmacists, radiologic technicians, medial equipment operators and other health workers. It will remain in effect "until COVID-19-related travel restrictions are lifted at the destination countries," it said.

As of 4 p.m. Sunday, there are 4,648 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines with 297 deaths and 197 recoveries.