'Killing me softly': Nurses' group urges govt to lift cap on deployment ban

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 23 2020 07:45 AM | Updated as of Nov 23 2020 08:39 AM

A health worker fixes her face mask at a testing center in Navotas City on August 20, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - A group of Filipino nurses on Monday urged the government to lift its cap on healthcare workers allowed to work abroad and pay on time those who serve in the frontlines against COVID-19.

Maristela Abenojar, national president of Filipino Nurses United, said nearly 30,000 healthcare workers have yet to receive several months of salary, hazard pay and special risk allowance.

"Tingin ko po ang nangyayari ngayon ay killing me softly. Unti-unti kaming pinapatay. Pinapatay kami sa pagiging exposed, nang di nabibigyan ng sapat na proteksyon sa COVID-19. Pinapatay din kami sa gutom," she told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.

(I think what's happening now is 'killing me softly.' We're slowly being killed by being exposed due to inadequate protection against COVID-19. We're also being killed by hunger.)

"Panawagan po namin, malapit na ang pasko, maawa naman po kayo sa ating nurses at iba pang healthworkers. Ngayon po namin kayo kailangan magpatupad ng mabilisan na pagkilos dahil pera naman po yan ng sambayanang Pilipino so sana po gawin niyo po ang dapat niyong gawin para sa amin."

(We call on government this Christmas to be compassionate with our nurses and health workers. We need you to enforce actions quickly because that's the people's taxes so we hope you do what you need to do for us.)

President Rodrigo Duterte over the weekend approved ending a ban deploying the nation's healthcare workers overseas during the COVID-19 pandemic with a limit of 5,000 a year. 

Some 14 health professions are affected by the deployment limit, Abenojar said.

"Paano po yan paghahatian ng 14 na propesyon. Ano po ang kanilang proseso ng approval dyan, hindi ho kasi malinaw," she said.

(How will 14 professions divide that among themselves? What will their process of approval be? It's not clear.)

Abenojar reiterated that there are 200,000 unemployed or underemployed nurses in the country so government does not need to enforce a cap on healthworkers working abroad.

"Ang mas challenge sa government ngayon ay ang panghihikayat sa healthcare workers. Ang panghihikayat ay magiging matagumpay lamang kung sila ay magpapatupad ng tamang pasahod at benepisyo," she said.

(Government is challenged to urge healthworkers to stay, which will only succeed if it will pay their salary and benefits on time.)

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