Overseas Filipino workers, particularly those in the medical and health sector, are the Philippines’ contribution to the global fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic, an official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said..

“Those who have worked abroad and continuing because of their previous contracts are now our contribution for care, healing and cure to the world affected by this Covid-19 pandemic,” said Bishop Ruperto Santos, vice chairman of the CBCP-Episcopal Commission on Migrants and Itinerant Peoples’ (ECMIP) in an interview.

He said OFWs who have existing contracts should be allowed to work in their host countries.

Santos added that the temporary deployment suspension should be imposed on new health workers.

“There should be temporary suspension for the new Filipino healthcare workers. We need them here, and there are jobs here,” he said.

On Monday, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has recommended the lifting of the temporary deployment ban on Filipino health workers with existing contracts abroad.

After their meeting Monday night, President Rodrigo Duterte has acceded to the recommendation to allow the travel abroad of health workers with perfected contracts.

Duterte, however, expressed concern that the country might run out of medical professionals to treat local Covid-19 patients.

He criticized the US for causing problems by aggressively recruiting nurses instead of relying on their own human resources. He also bared that the IATF-EID expressed hope that not all Filipino nurses would leave the country amid the rising number of cases.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr., labor groups, and health workers earlier opposed the temporary overseas deployment ban, saying it violates the right to travel and promotes involuntary servitude.

The Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) earlier imposed a temporary suspension on the deployment of health care workers amid the national state of emergency in the country due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The agency said the order was issued to ensure that the country has a sufficient number of health workers if the need arises.

Among those that are temporarily barred from leaving the country are: Medical Doctor/Physician, Nurse, Microbiologist, Medical biologist, Medical technologist, Clinical analyst, Respiratory therapist, etc. (Ferdinand Patinio, PNA)

Top photo: PNA file photo