Cap on deployment of health workers may be lifted â Palace
The National Kidney and Transplant Institute sets up a tent which was converted into a receiving area for medical workers to screen possible COVID-19 patients in Quezon City on April 2, 2020.
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

Cap on deployment of health workers may be lifted — Palace

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - November 24, 2020 - 7:55pm

MANILA, Philippines — The cap on the overseas deployment of health workers may be lifted once a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available, Malacañang said Tuesday.  

President Rodrigo Duterte has ended the travel ban on medical professionals but only up to 5,000 workers are allowed to leave to ensure that the Philippines has enough manpower in its fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some sectors are criticizing the deployment ceiling and are urging the government to just increase the benefits given to health workers to encourage them to remain in the country.

"The 5,000 (cap) is just an initial (figure). If that is completed in the second quarter and if there is a vaccine, it may be scrapped altogether," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing.

"We are just making sure that we won't run out of nurses, nursing assistants, and nursing aides with clinical experience. If we run out of people with clinical experience, who would take care of us if we get sick?" he added.

Roque noted that Davao City Rep. Paolo Duterte has filed a bill raising the salary of nurses.

"I hope Congress enacts it," the Palace spokesman said.

"I think it’s up to Congress to act on it. As of now, I have no information if the president will (certify it as urgent), but I know for a fact that (Labor) Secretary (Silvestre) Bello (III) is very supportive of this legislative initiative," he added.

The lifting of the deployment ban will take effect on Jan. 1, 2021. The health department has given assurances that the Philippines would have enough medical workers despite the lifting of the travel ban.

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