Gordon questions nurse deployment ban

Gordon questions nurse deployment ban

By Ernie Reyes

Filipino nurses in America (Photo courtesy by Time Magazine)

MANILA – Senator Richard J. Gordon on Tuesday questioned the rule of
the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), an attached
agency of the Department of Labor of Employment (DOLE), in restricting
the overseas deployment to just 5,000 nurses within a calendar year.

“Violation ng constitution ‘yan. You have no right to stop somebody
seeking employment abroad. In fact, kung gusto nila kahit may giyera
di mo puwede pigilan ‘yan,” manifested Gordon during his
interpellation of the DOLE’s 2022 budget allocation.

“I’m saying [the restrictions] may be attacked as arbitrary, excessive
and oppressive. That’s my position,” he added.

The POEA temporarily stopped the deployment of newly-hired nurses and
healthcare workers overseas and halted the issuance of Overseas
Employment Certificates (OEC) for nurses after the agency reached the
annual deployment cap quota last June.

According to data provided by the Professional Regulation Commission
(PRC), there are currently 512,719 licensed nurses in the country,
while there are only 165,361 employed in private and public health
facilities.

Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III was also quoted in a 2021 radio
interview that there had been an “oversupply” of nurses in the
country, which counters the point of the deployment ban.

Gordon said the current restrictions violate Article II, Section 9 of
the 1987 Constitution that provides for the improvement in living
standards through policies that promote full employment, whether
locally or abroad.

He previously appealed to the IATF and POEA to reconsider the
restrictive measure as seven nurses who were then applying in Qatar
faced a similar predicament.

In the letter, Gordon argued that the deployment of nurses abroad can
help alleviate the country’s unemployment problem and improve its
struggling economy through dollar remittances.

On June 18, POEA Administrator Atty. Bernardo P. Olalia informed
Gordon that the IATF passed Resolution 122 on June 17, which allows
the increase of healthcare workers’ annual deployment ceiling to 6,500
from the 5,000 cap.

As a long-time advocate of the health sector, Gordon continuously
promotes the welfare of every health worker in the country by creating
policies that are beneficial to them.

Last year, he filed a bill amending Republic Act 9173 or The
Philippine Nursing Act of 2002, which provides a new comprehensive
policy for Filipino nurses that will give them opportunities to
advance themselves in the nursing field while they serve the country’s
growing needs for healthcare professionals.

According to the law, the minimum base pay for nurses working in the
government hospitals and health institutions should start at salary
grade 15 or P31,545 per month.

Under the ‘Bayanihan to Heal as One Act’, Gordon proposed that P1
million shall be given to the families of public and private health
workers who contracted Covid-19 and died while on duty, while health
workers who are severely afflicted by the virus shall be given
P100,000 each.

He has also recently co-authored Senate Bill 2371, a measure granting
the continued benefits of essential healthcare workers, including
nurses, who risk their lives in relieving suffering and saving lives,
especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It mandates the continuing grant of the special risk allowance (SRA)
and other benefits to both public and private health workers. (ai/mtvn)

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