MANILA- Filipino healthcare workers with existing overseas employment contracts may depart the Philippines again, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Tuesday as the government exempted those with prevailing commitments in other countries from an ongoing deployment ban.
All Filipino healthcare workers with perfected and signed overseas employment contracts as of March 8, 2020 will be allowed to depart the country as agreed by the government's inter-agency task force on the coronavirus response.
Departing healthcare workers just have to sign a declaration signifying their knowledge of the risks involved in traveling overseas, Nograles said.
"Papayagan na po silang umalis. Kailangan lang po nilang pumirma ng deklarasyon na batid nila ang mga panganib sa paglipad papunta sa ibang bansa," Nograles said in a virtual press briefing.
(They will be allowed to leave. They just have to sign a declaration signifying their knowledge of the risks involved in traveling abroad.)
The development came following complaints about a memorandum issued by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration suspending the deployment of doctors, nurses, and healthcare workers abroad in the hopes of preserving the local frontline force against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The POEA suspended the deployment of all health care workers until the national state of emergency due to COVID-19 is lifted and “until COVID-19-related travel restrictions are lifted at the destination countries.”
"Nililinaw po natin na di po kasama dito ang mga doktor, nars, at iba pang medical health professional na may mga kontrata na po para magtrabaho sa ibang bansa," Nograles said.
(We want to clarify that doctors, nurses, and healthcare professionals with contracts abroad are exempted from this deployment ban.)
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on Monday initially announced the exemption from the deployment ban.
President Rodrigo Duterte in a late-night address on Monday also said he is not stopping Filipino healthcare workers who want to work abroad.
"Hindi ko sinisisi, hindi ako galit. Wala akong emotions actually about this but kung gusto ninyong kayong mga nurse na Pilipino gusto ninyong magsilbi sa ibang bayan, sa ibang tao, okay lang sa akin," he said.
(If Filipino healthcare workers want to serve in other countries, serve other people, it's okay. I have no emotions about it.)
"Ito lang ang tandaan mo, pagdating ng panahon kung maghirap kami, hindi natin alam ngayon, pa-increase ng increase, first wave pa ito. Kayo na lang ang mag-intindi," he added.
(But you have to remember, there will come a time that the country will suffer. The cases are increasing. You be the ones to understand.)
As of Monday, the Philippines has recorded 4,932 confirmed COVID-19 cases. Of that number, 242 have recovered and 315 have died.