Palace confident nationalism will prevail over Filipino nurses during pandemic

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 20 2020 04:13 PM

A health worker interviews a patient at the San Juan COVID-19 Kalinga Center on April 19, 2020. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Malacañang said Thursday it was confident that nationalism would prevail over the desire of Filipino nurses to work abroad as health workers appealed the overseas deployment ban.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque appealed to health workers to consider their families in the Philippines as the government faced calls to allow medical workers to work abroad anew.

"Sa tingin ko po, sa panahon ng pandemya, mananaig naman ang nasyonalismo sa puso at damdamin ng ating mga nurses," Roque said during a Palace press briefing.

(In my view, nationalism will prevail in the hearts of our nurses during this time of a pandemic.)

"Kahit pa mangibang-bansa ang ating mga health workers, may maiiwan silang mga mahal sa buhay dito at sana po 'yun din ang maisip ng mga health professionals na wala namang mag-aattend sa mga pamilya nila dito 'pag kailangan ng mga health workers," he added.

(Even if they work abroad, they will leave families behind and I hope the health workers consider that there might be no one to attend to their families if they need medical care.)

The government's pandemic task force is set to discuss the deployment ban on health workers on Thursday afternoon.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration had barred the deployment of Filipino health care workers at the onset of the pandemic. 

Only those with perfected and signed overseas employment contracts as of March 8, 2020 were allowed to leave the country.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the government has put in place additional benefits in an upcoming measure that would guide the country's recovery from the pandemic.

Provisions on hazard pay and special risk allowances for health workers are included in the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill, she said.

Earlier this week, Roque said the Philippines, a key exporter of nurses and other medical workers, needs more health professionals with local health care workers on the frontlines of the virus fight already exhausted.

The country as of Wednesday has confirmed 173,774 COVID-19 cases, of which 57,498 are active.