Duterte wants DOJ to study legality of preventing Filipino healthcare workers from moving abroad

Pia Gutierrez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 05 2020 01:11 AM

Duterte wants DOJ to study legality of preventing Filipino healthcare workers from moving abroad 1
President Rodrigo Duterte updates the nation on the government's efforts in addressing the COVID-19pandemic at the Malago Clubhouse in Malacañang on May 4, 2020. Toto Lozano, Presidential Photo/handout

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday said he wants the Department of Justice (DOJ) to study the legality of preventing Filipino healthcare workers from migrating to other countries amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

Duterte said that though he understands the needs of other countries to address the shortage of doctors and nurses during the health crisis, he does not want to expose overseas Filipino workers to the risk of being infected and dying from COVID-19 abroad.

“Ang problema, sabi ko we'll have to look into this again. It has to be this week. Maybe two days from now we'll have to meet again and consult legal, si Secretary Guevarra, whether or not it would be legal for us to just stop the migration of health workers simply because they are being taken in in a place where there is so much,” Duterte said during his televised speech aired Monday night.

“Kawawa yung Pilipino, eh. Sabi ko... Pag-usapan natin 'yan,” he added. “It's a more valid reason to stop a doctor and a nurse than the previous one which said that we'll be deprived of workers. Walang ano yun, no leg to stand on, actually. But this one, if I send you to a warfront, the enemy is the COVID, the microbes, eh parang maawa ako.”

“Please don't misunderstand me. I am making it clear now. I do not want you to go there and come back in a coffin. That's my only argument if you may because you are Filipinos at mahal ko ang mga buhay ng mga kababayan ko,” he continued.

The Philippine government on April lifted the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration's (POEA) controversial ban on the deployment of healthcare workers abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic, saying that healthcare professionals with perfected and signed overseas employment contracts can leave the country to work abroad.