Malacañang said Tuesday the Philippines will not lift the overseas deployment ban on healthcare workers in the near future due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a televised briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the deployment ban remains despite the opposition of Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., who argued that preventing doctors, nurses and other medical professionals from working abroad is unconstitutional.
Roque also said President Rodrigo Duterte imposed the deployment ban to protect the health and lives of Filipino healthcare workers and beef up the Philippines’ medical manpower amid the pandemic.
“Napag-usapan po ‘yan sa IATF [ Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases] and we all concurred with the opinion of the President except for Secretary Locsin,” he said.
“The President encourages free thought even among Cabinet secretaries especially on matters that do not fall within their primary jurisdiction.”
Asked if the Philippines will lift travel restrictions on medical professionals in the near future, Roque replied: “Wala po siguro.”
Last week, Roque urged health workers to first gain experience in the Philippines by applying for positions under the government’s COVID-19 emergency hiring program.
“And by equipping/acquiring themselves with the skills and competence their profession entails, they have not only helped our people during this time of global health emergency crisis, but they, too, would have been provided the work experience that would open doors for opportunities for overseas employment,” Roque had said.
Only healthcare employees who have 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 vacationing health workers who have existing job contracts abroad. — RSJ, GMA News