Saturday, April 11, 2020

Labor group urges DOLE to review deployment ban on certain healthcare workers

The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition on Saturday urged the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) to review the order on the temporary overseas deployment ban of selected healthcare workers amid the threat of the coronavirus disease.

The coalition said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III should consider recalling Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Governing Board Resolution No. 09-2020.

“[We] call on Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello to review, recall, and hold in abeyance the implementation of the ban of health workers to travel and work abroad,” Nagkaisa Chairman Sonny Matula said in a statement.

Based on the POEA resolution, the selected health care workers cannot be deployed “until the national state of emergency is lifted and until COVID-19-related travel restrictions are lifted at the destination countries.”

Matula said that such an order places the Filipino health workers in “a state of limbo or uncertainty.”

“We cannot just ban health workers to go abroad to work when it is not clear whether the DOLE or DOH (Department of Health) will utilize their skills or they will be hired or compensated during the temporary deployment suspension,” Matula said.

The resolution covers the occupations of medical doctor/physician, nurse, microbiologist, molecular biologist, medical technologist, clinical analyst, respiratory therapist, pharmacist, laboratory technician, x-ray/radiologic technician, nursing assistant/nursing aid, operator of medical equipment, supervisor of health services and personal care, and repairman of medical-hospital equipment.

“The universal Declaration of Human Rights has proclaimed in Article 13 that every one has the right to leave any country including his own, and to return to his country,” said Matula.

“Other than a violation of the right to travel, this ban also is problematic and might be an order imposing an involuntary servitude prohibited by the fundamental law. Under Article III, section 18(2), the Constitution speaks: “No involuntary servitude in any form shall exist except as a punishment of a crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted,” he added.

The labor leader also said the ban caused the “offloading from their flights of a number of nurses and other health workers vacationing in the country and returning back to their work abroad.”

“These returning health workers may lose their livelihood for breach of contract and may be banned permanently from employment in their host countries. This is unfair for these workers already employed abroad,” he said. - By Analou De Vera

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