MANILA - Filipino health care workers are still prohibited from working abroad, except for those with existing employment contracts as of March 8, 2020, Malacañang said Thursday in light of calls from medical workers seeking jobs overseas.
The inter-agency task force on pandemic response limited the deployment of health workers abroad to those with overseas employment contracts as of March 8, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said.
Health workers who are in the Philippines only for a vacation are also allowed to return to their jobs abroad, he added.
"'Yung mga health professionals na mayroon na silang mga OEC (overseas employment certificate) issued po ng POEA at mayroon na pong verified employment contract as of March 8, 2020 ay pupuwede pong lumabas ng bansa," Roque said during a televised announcement.
(Health professionals with OEC issued by POEA and have verified employment contracts as of March 8, 2020 can leave the country.)
Roque's announcement is a reiteration of the existing policy of the government, limiting the deployment of health workers to those with existing contracts.
At the onset of the pandemic, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration barred the deployment of Filipino health care workers abroad, with only those with perfected and signed overseas employment contracts as of March 8, 2020 allowed to leave the country.
Groups of nurses and medical workers have called on the government to lift the deployment ban.
The Philippines, a key exporter of nurses and other medical workers, had sought to keep a reserve force of medical workers as it battled an increasing number of COVID-19 infections.
Just this week, Roque said the country needs more health professionals with local health care workers on the frontlines of the virus fight already exhausted.
COVID-19 cases in the Philippines on Thursday climbed to 178,022, of which 61,025 are active cases.