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Duterte yet to decide on proposal to ease travel ban for nurses -Palace

President Rodrigo Duterte has yet to decide on the proposal of the Labor department to exempt more nurses from the overseas deployment ban due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Malacañang said Thursday.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III has proposed to expand exemptions to those who had contracts abroad as of August 31.

“Hanggang doon pa lang po at hindi pa po iyan naaaprubahan ng Presidente,” Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said at a news conference.

Foreign Affairs Minister Teodoro Locsin Jr., who has called for the lifting of the ban, said in a tweet the Philippines has 400,000 nursing graduates without jobs so "they're rightly pissed."

In Germany there are 430 doctors and nurses per 10,000 people. In the Philippines, there are 65.

The Philippines has the highest number of recorded coronavirus infections in Southeast Asia with 276,289. Its 4,785 deaths are second only to Indonesia.

Bello told nurses on September 11 he was confident the President would support his proposal to relax the travel ban. He said the total lifting of the ban was "under serious study.”

"While we don't want our nurses to leave, they are at a disadvantage. They don't have jobs here and even if they did, the salary is low," Bello said as he urged nurses to fight for their rights.

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. -with a report from Reuters/MDM, GMA News