Bello wants expanded exemptions in ban to deploy health workers abroad | Global News
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Bello wants expanded exemptions in ban to deploy health workers abroad

SENATOR VILLANUEVA: 'DISJOINTED' GOV'T POLICY ON DEPLOYMENT BAN MUST BE SORTED OUT
/ 09:51 PM September 08, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Tuesday said he has made a recommendation to the government’s COVID-19 task force to allow the deployment of more nurses and medical workers overseas.

“We recommended that the exemption should cover not only those who completed their papers as of March but also those who completed their papers as of August 31,” Bello said in an interview over ABS-CBN News Channel.

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At present, only health workers who have perfected contracts as of March 8 this year can leave the country to pursue work abroad.

“They are not covered by the temporary suspension of deployment,” Bello said.

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“This includes ‘yung mga balik-manggagawa. Meaning ‘yung mga nurses na nagbakasyon lamang pagkatapos inabutan sila ng lockdown, they can go. They are also part of the exemption,” he added.

But Bello said up to 1,200 more nurses and medical workers would be able to go abroad for work should the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging and Infectious Disease approve the deployment of health care professionals with completed contracts as of August 31.

The IATF will likely decide whether to approve or reject the recommendation on Thursday during their task force meeting, according to Bello.

“I am confident [they will approve it]. Marami pang maiiwan… Hindi masyadong madi-dislocate ‘yung ating medical services dito,” he added.

Should the task force approve the recommendation, he noted that it would still be subject to the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte.

UK-bound Filipino nurses

Bello was also asked about the seven nurses who were reportedly barred from leaving the country. They were bound for the United Kingdon and are exempted from the deployment ban.

“It was just a case of an oversight by the Bureau of Immigration (BI),” the labor chief said. “They have already corrected it.”

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Medical workers who are allowed to leave the country would only need to show the BI their overseas employment certificate and their visa, according to Bello.

‘Disjointed’ policy

But Senator Joel Villanueva said the recent incident showed how “disjointed” the government’s policy is on the deployment ban.

Villanueva, chair of the Senate labor committee, called on the Department of Labor and Employment and other authorities to immediately sort out the misunderstanding so that no other healthcare worker would suffer the trouble caused by the “wrong interpretation” of government policies.

“Malinaw po sa kasalukuyang polisiya na maaaring umalis ang mga healthcare workers na may kontratang pinagtibay bago ang cut-off na March 8. Hindi na po kasama sa usapan kung kailan nabigyan ng visa ang ating manggagawa,” Villanueva said in a statement.

“Mali po ang interpretasyon ng BI sa umiiral na deployment ban, at patunay dito ang memo na kanilang pinalabas noon Aug. 20 na nagsasaad na bawal umalis ng bansa ang mga healthcare worker na binigyan ng visa matapos ang March 8,” he added.

Further, the senator renewed his call for the lifting of the deployment ban on healthcare workers, citing the need to balance the regulation with realities on the ground.

Most of the affected workers are breadwinners, have left their jobs to pursue overseas employment, or have spent considerable time and money to train and prepare for their deployment, Villanueva pointed out.

KGA

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TAGS: Deployment Ban, Features, health workers, IATF, Joel Villanueva, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, nation
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