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Roque justifies deployment ban on health workers

President Duterte has exercised his inherent police power to temporarily prevent health workers from migrating to other countries to ensure their health and safety during the coronavirus pandemic, MalacaƱang asserted on Wednesday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. (YANCY LIM/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

President spokesman Harry Roque gave this justification in turning down calls from some medical groups to lift the deployment ban of health workers abroad.

“We are number 22 in the number of COVID cases and I’m sure that most, if not all, the nurses are leaving for countries that have more number of cases particularly the United States which is number one,” he said over CNN Philippines Wednesday.

“So it is inherit police power of the President to delay their deployment to uphold the public health,” he added.

Also, Roque explained that the country might also need the services of the Filipino health workers as the nation battles the coronavirus outbreak.

“Charity begins at home. We may need services here. That’s why we made it attractive for nurses to stay and work in the Philippines,” he said.

For now, Roque said only health workers with perfected and signed work contracts as of March 8 could be deployed abroad.

“We’ve clarified that all those with processed papers as of March 8, 2020 could leave but all those who do have their papers yet after March 8 must stay meanwhile,” he said.

On Tuesday, Roque has urged Filipino health workers to gain clinical experience in the country, especially during coronavirus emergency, before heading abroad. He said by acquiring skills and competence their profession entails, “they have not only helped our people during this time of global health emergency crisis, but they, too, would have been provided the work experience that would open doors for opportunities for overseas employment.”

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases issued Resolution No. 64 on August 17 stating the overseas deployment of medical and allied health workers is temporarily suspended “considering the continuing state of public health emergency.”

The Department of Health and other hospitals have been enjoined by the IATF to hire these medical and allied health workers to supplement their workforce.

Back in April, the POEA board passed a resolution temporarily halted the deployment of all health care workers “until the national state emergency is lifted and until the COVID-19-related travel restrictions are lifted at the destination countries.” The IATF intervened and allowed limited deployment of health workers following appeals from the medical community at the time.

In May, the President asked Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra to study the legality of preventing the migration of Filipino health workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Duterte explained that he was only thinking about the welfare of the workers amid the raging public health emergency.

“Please don’t misunderstand me. I am making it clear now. I do not want you to go there and come back in a coffin. That’s my only argument if you may because you are Filipinos at mahal ko ang mga buhay ng mga kababayan ko (and I love the lives of our countrymen),” he said during a televised speech last May.

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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