Bishops call on youth’s help, ask PRRD to lift the travel ban on health workers

Bishops call on youth’s help, ask PRRD to lift the travel ban on health workers

By Tracy Cabrera

EVEN as Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines(CBCP) acting president Bishop Pablo Virgilio David urged the youth to assist medical front liners in their heroic service to care for Covid-19 patients, two other prelates asked President Rodrigo Duterte to lift a flight ban on Filipino health workers so that they can work abroad and provide the needs of their families.

In a recent statement, David said that young people in the dioceses must help in the revival of the religious group known as Cofradias de San Roque (Confraternity of Saint Roch) by volunteering as back up to health care workers, especially in quarantine facilities, and ease the burden placed on their shoulders amidst the coronavirus pandemic.

“On the feast dayof San Roque (Saint Roch), I wish to call on young people in all dioceses,especially in parishes named after San Roque, to help us revive the Cofradias de San Roque that was instituted by PopePaul III in the 1500s to do charitable works for the sick, particularly thosestruck by pandemics,” the CBCP president said.

In the wake ofthe ongoing pandemic, the Catholic faithful and churchgoers have been askingfor the intercession of Saint Roch against the coronavirus pandemic.

David added that careshould also be given to patients not only in hospitals but also to thoseconfined in their homes.

“I am referringto the care of Covid positive patients, not necessarily in hospitals but inpublic or private quarantine facilities, including those who have opted forhome quarantine. We can enter into a partnership with . . . health officialsand assist them in monitoring two kinds of quarantined patients: those withoutsymptoms and those with mild symptoms,” the prelate stressed.

Meanwhile, bishops Ruperto Santos of Balanga and ArturoBastes of Sorsogon have joined hands in asking the chief executive to allowsome of our medical frontliners to work abroad so they can better provide fortheir families and loved ones.

The President hadbanned health professionals from leaving the Philippines since April due to thealleged ‘scarcity’ of health workers in the country. Presidential spokespersonHarry Roque said the reason for the ban is because doctors and nurses areneeded to fight the pandemic back home.

“We need morehealth workers now. We cannot export what we do not have,” Roque had argued onnational television.

However, Santosand Bastes revealed that the ban on doctors, nurses and medical staff added tothe suffering of their families whose sources of income have been depleted dueto mass layoffs and the economic downtrend cause by the lockdowns and strictquarantine protocols.

“These OFWs (overseasFilipino workers) are the breadwinners of their families. They also spent hugeamounts of money for their training and schooling … Now, they cannot earn fortheir families,” Bishop Bastes pointed out.

He said theflight ban may have been necessary before but this was not the case now becauseconditions had changed.

“When thepandemic started, we did not know how to proceed. But now it’s clear that theproblem is not a lack of health workers, it’s a lack of medical facilities andequipment. We need more hospital beds and ventilators, rather than doctors andnurses,” the bishop underscored.

The travelrestriction is “unreasonable” and “uncharitable” for the children of overseasworkers, he said.

“Banning them (healthworkers) from working abroad is not a solution. Having a clear policy inhandling the pandemic is the solution and it is certainly not to stop ourmedical professionals leaving the Philippines,” he added.

More than 2.8million Filipino workers have lost their jobs due to mass retrenchment,according to government figures.

Meanwhile, 8,000to 10,000 overseas workers were being laid off each month by foreign companiesdue to the Covid-19 fallout, according to assistant labor secretary DominiqueTutay.

Bishop Santossaid preventing qualified health workers leaving the country contributed to thenumber of unemployed professionals.

“To provide whatthey need and to promote better working conditions are the answers. To prohibitthem from leaving the country despite having job offers means adding to thenumber of jobless Filipinos,” the bishop said.

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