Senator Christopher “Bong” Go appealed on behalf of affected nurses and other medical professionals who are bound to be deployed abroad for the government to grant an extension of cut-off date for exemption of medical and allied professionals from the temporary ban imposed on overseas deployment.
Go agreed with the proposal to move the cut-off date of contracts from March 8, 2020 to August 31, 2020 to be covered by the exemption from the ban.
This is in consideration of the need for these medical professionals to comply with their perfected contracts abroad and in recognizing that the ongoing pandemic caused by coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak is a global health crisis.
“Kawawa naman ang mga healthcare professionals na mayroon nang pirmadong mga kontrata pero hindi makaalis dahil sa deployment ban. Ang iba sa kanila ay naipit sa Pilipinas ng walang trabaho, at gumastos na ng malaking halaga para asikasuhin ang mga dokumento para sa kani-kanilang deployment. Magmalasakit tayo sa kanila dahil kabuhayan nila ang nakataya dito,” Go said.
“Sana’y payagan natin sila na makapunta sa kanilang mga pinagtatrabahuan kahit sa ibang bansa ito. Malaki ang papel ng ating mga kababayang nasa medical field. Ikonsidera natin ang kanilang serbisyo at kontribusyon sa pagsugpo ng pandemya hindi lang dito sa bansa kundi sa buong mundo,” he added.
A temporary ban on the deployment of these medical professionals was imposed by the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration on April 2, 2020.
According to the Senator, the move to extend the cut-off is to provide the healthcare professionals the opportunity to fulfill their duty and obligation to their work and to help save lives from the COVID-19 pandemic, even if their services are rendered abroad.
“World-class po ang ating medical professionals. Kailangan ang serbisyo nila sa buong mundo. May sinumpaan sila sa kanilang trabaho na sumalba ng buhay kahit sinuman, kahit saan man,” he said.
“Ang pakikipag-bayanihan natin upang malampasan ang krisis na ito ay hindi limitado sa bansa natin lamang. We also recognize the invaluable service that our medical professionals are doing in different parts of the world,” he added.
The Senator also explained that moving of the cut-off date for those who have perfected and signed their employment contracts will be the country’s contribution and in solidarity with other countries in the world battling the same disease outbreak.
The Philippines has managed to enter into bilateral and multilateral arrangements with many countries to ensure its access to vaccines against COVID-19 that are being developed.
“By allowing our medical professionals to arrive to their work and country destinations, it is also a way for us, Filipinos, and the country, as a whole, to show our solidarity with the world,” Go said, adding that “given that almost all regions of the world have been affected by the pandemic and their services, anywhere they are, contribute in eliminating COVID-19.”
Meanwhile, Go again thanked Filipino health workers who continue to fight COVID-19 to save lives of fellow Filipinos.
He highlighted that their dedication, service and sacrifice are immeasurable. He then proceeded to call anew to provide for the needs of healthcare workers who are in the battle against COVID-19 in the country.
“Nagpapasalamat po ako sa ating mga healthcare workers na patuloy na lumalaban sa COVID-19, lalo na dito sa ating sariling bayan. ‘Wag po kayo sumuko dahil kayo ang bagong bayani sa panahon ngayon,” he said.
The Senator cited that under the provisions of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2, both public and private healthcare workers directly catering to or in contact with COVID-19 patients should be given special risk allowance.
“Lahat ng tulong na maibibigay natin sa ating health workers ay ibigay na natin ngayon. Isa rin itong pagkilala at pasasalamat sa kanilang dakilang sakripisyo para sa bayan,” he said.
In addition, these healthcare workers should also undergo COVID-19 testing as a mandatory procedure every fifteen days.
Their medical expenses in case of exposure to COVID-19 or any work-related injury or disease during the state of national emergency must also be taken care of. Life insurance, accommodation, transportation, and meals must also be provided while proper compensation should be given to these frontliners, especially those who have contracted COVID-19 in the line of duty.
“Hindi man kasing taas ang compensation dito sa Pilipinas kung ikukumpara sa ibang bansa, wala pa ring katumbas ang serbisyo nila sa bayan,” Go said.
“Malasakit sa sariling bayan, malasakit sa buong mundo – ito ang tatak serbisyo ng Pilipino. Nakikiisa tayo sa laban na ito, isang krisis na kailangan nating lampasan sa tulong ng ating mga nurse at medical professionals saan man sila sa mundo nagseserbisyo,” he added.