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Health workers with deals abroad exempted from overseas deployment ban

Health professionals with existing employment contracts abroad may leave the Philippines to work overseas, Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that healthcare employees who had government-issued overseas employment certificates (OEC) and verified work contracts as of March 8, 2020 were exempted from the temporary deployment ban on medical and allied health workers.

Also exempted from the ban are balik-manggagawa or returning workers.

Roque said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) made the clarification after the policy-making body maintained the deployment ban early this week due to the continuing state of public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The task force then urged the Department of Health and all hospitals and healthcare facilities of local government units to hire these health workers to supplement their current workforce.

In a message shared to reporters, Filipino Nurses United president Maristela said that Labor Secretary announced that the IATF approved “‘yung mga may perfected contract before March 8, mga balik-manggagawa at mga nagbakasyon sa Pilipinas ay exempted na sa deployment ban.”

Asked to confirm the development, Bello answered in the affirmative.

“Yes,” the Labor chief said.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque earlier announced that the IATF would meet on Thursday to discuss if there could be exemptions from the overseas deployment ban on health workers. 

Previously, the IATF allowed healthcare workers who have signed employment contracts as of March 8 to leave the country. 

In April, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has temporarily suspended the deployment of healthcare workers abroad in a bid to ramp up health workforce in the country in time of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis. 

According to the POEA, the deployment ban was meant “to support the national objective of controlling the spread of COVID-19” and “to prioritize human resource allocation for the national healthcare system at the time of the national state of emergency.” -NB, GMA News