More health workers now allowed to work overseas, Palace says
Bella Perez-Rubio ( - September 21, 2020 - 12:24pm

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 12:44 p.m.) — Malacañang on Monday announced that nurses with complete documents as of August 31 may now leave the country for work. 

Previously, only health workers with contracts as of March 8 were exempted from the deployment ban issued by the government. 

According to presidential spokesman Harry Roque, who made the announcement during a virtual briefing, an additional 1,500 health workers will benefit from the further easing of the ban. 

Citing data from a nurses' group, Sen. Joel Villanueva last week said that there are 2,000 nurses affected by the ban.

"The president has listened to the grievances of nurses. Those with complete documents as of August 31, have been allowed to leave for their work abroad," Roque said in Filipino. 

Lawmakers and recruiters alike have been urging the government to lift the restriction on deployment, citing the numerous health workers who are out of work in the country. 

Villanueva, who chairs the Senate labor committee, noted that between 2012 to 2018, there were 148,832 nurses who passed their licensure exams.

"This is more than double the total 65,108 nurses currently employed in private and public health facilities," he said, citing health department data.

Along with Villanueva, Senators Risa Hontiveros and Nancy Binay have also appealed to the government to lift the deployment ban as well as improve working conditions for health workers in the country. 

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles last Saturday confirmed that the IATF presented President Rodrigo Duterte with several ways through which he can respond to the concerns of health workers who are covered by the ban.

"We are communicating with the Office of the President, to President Duterte himself...We have stated in our letter to the president how many nurses would be affected and how many nurses would benefit if we allow those who signed contracts... beyond March [to leave],” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said in a live online session last Saturday.

“We have provided President Duterte options and let us just wait for the decision of the president regarding this matter,” he added.

Nograles, also the vice chairman of the IATF, did not elaborate on the options but claimed that the issue has been discussed repeatedly in meetings.

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