MANILA - The Philippine Nurses Association (PNA) on Saturday said government's decision to raise the cap on the deployment of health care workers is a welcome development.
“It’s a good news for us kasi at least meron pa rin made-deploy (because at least more will be deployed),” said PNA president Melbert Reyes.
On Friday, the inter-agency task force leading the country's COVID-19 response said it raised the annual cap on the deployment of nurses and other health care workers who want to work abroad to 6,500.
The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration earlier this month suspended overseas deployment of newly-hired medical professionals after the 5,000 annual ceiling for new hires was breached on June 1.
“But then kung titingnan nating 'yung 6,500, 5,000 po dyan ay OK na, tapos na po. Wala na po. So 1,500 na lang 'yan from June to December,” said Reyes.
(But the 5,000 cap has been filled. So the 1,500 cap is from June to December.)
Reyes said their group is not in favor of imposing a deployment ban as it is within the right of health care workers to seek better opportunities abroad.
“We cannot deprive our nurses [of] looking for better opportunities lalo na ‘di nila makita 'yung dito sa Pilipinas (especially if they can’t find it here in the Philippines),” he said.
Reyes said nurses won't have to seek overseas employment if only the government resolves problems that force them to do so. He said many colleagues want to remain in the country to work if given better opportunities.
“Parang napagod na 'yung nurses na maghintay ng pagpapahalaga mula sa gobyerno at sa publiko. Nauunawaan natin na sabi ng Department of Health, malaki 'yung gap between the employment. Sabi nila almost 100,000 ang kulang sa hospitals, both private and government hospitals may kakulangan sa nurses but then kahit anong i-offer nila ngayon nahihirapan tayong maghanap ng takers,” he said.
(It’s like the nurses got tired of waiting to be given importance by the government and the public. We understand that the DOH said there’s a gap in the employment. They said almost 100,000 nurses are lacking in private and government hospitals but whatever we offer them, it’s difficult to find any takers.)
He added that nurses are looking for security of tenure as many of them are working under job orders or are contractual employees.
“Bakit hindi natin maibigay 'yung permanent position to them? Wala talagang tatanggap. Ano ba 'yun, band aid? Iha-hire kami for this time, tapos after nun wala na rin. So naiintindihan natin ang mga nurses kung bakit nahihirapan tayong i-encourage silang magtrabaho,” he said.
(Why can’t we give permanent positions to them. No one is really going to accept. What’s that, a band aid [solution]? They will hire us for this time only and then nothing after. That’s why we understand our nurses and why we are having a difficult time encouraging them to work here.)
The Philippines is one of the world's biggest sources of nurses, who are among some 10 million Filipinos who work and live overseas, with annual remittances in excess of $30 billion, a key driver for the country's consumption-driven economy.
The salary that nurses earn abroad is far more than what they are earning here.
“Hindi talaga siya comparative, mahihirapan tayo kahit pigilan sila, 'yung deployment ban, hindi rin naman natin maibigay ang sweldo na pwede nilang kitain sa ibang bansa,” he said.
(It’s not even comparative, even with the deployment ban it would be difficult to stop them from leaving because we cannot give them the same salary that they would earn abroad.)