Bishop questions cap on health workers deployment
A Catholic bishop has welcomed the lifting of the deployment ban on healthcare workers.
But Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga expressed concern over the cap on medical workers who will be allowed to leave and work abroad each year.
“Now as the President lifted it, why limit it or put a number,” said Santos, who is the vice chairman of the bishops’ Commission for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.
“We always appeal before and affirm that already existing contracts should not be suspended for deployment,” he said.
The Labor department on Nov. 21 confirmed that President Rodrigo Duterte lifted the deployment ban on healthcare workers.
However, only 5,000 healthcare workers will be deployed each year to ensure the country will have enough medical professionals to fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
The cap is less than half of the 13,000 healthcare workers who leave the country every year to seek greener pastures.
The government suspended the deployment of medical workers abroad in April “until the national health state of emergency is lifted”.
The travel restriction was first eased on Sept. 21 to allow workers with existing deployment contracts as of August 31 to leave the country.
The bishop said that putting a limit to deployment is not the solution to ensuring the country has enough health workers to help in the Covid-19 response.
He reminded the need of raising the standards of compensation to healthcare workers.
“To entice them to remain here is to improve their working conditions and security, better benefits, and promotion of their welfare,” Santos said.
Another way, he said, is to make it mandatory for fresh graduates to serve the country first for at least a year.
“Let it be a rule that the fresh graduates should work here at least a year before they look for work abroad,” he said.
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