Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Secretary Silvestre Bello III clarified the 5,000-limit on healthcare workers’ deployment abroad only applies to new hires.
Bello also noted in an interview that the limit on health workers’ overseas deployment is only temporary.
“The cap does not cover, of course, the balik-manggagawa. It only covers the new hires, new applicants… The cap is not a permanent thing,” he said in an interview on ANC.
The DOLE chief said the cap is being implemented to ensure that the country will have enough healthcare workers to take care of COVID-19 patients.
Bello also noted that employers abroad usually hire healthcare workers who have experience and not neophytes.
He also said that filling out the 5,000 slots would be on a first-come, first-served basis. Health workers from different expertise, like doctors and nurses, would have to share the slots.
Bello said DOLE acknowledges that the 5,000-deployment limit is much lower than the 16,000 healthcare workers going abroad every year. However, Bello insisted that the police is really a must.
He added that DOLE is also proposing to increase nurses’ and medical workers’ salaries in the private sector.
Bello also lamented the low salary of healthcare workers in big hospitals with high income.
“Kaya, sinasabihan ko ‘yung mga nurses: Go on strike. Let the people in the hospitals learn the value of your profession,” he said.
The limit on healthcare workers’ deployment abroad begins in January 2021.
Bello: Limit on health workers’ overseas deployment only for new hires
Meanwhile, Anakalusugan party-list Representative Mike Defensor filed a bill seeking a starting salary of over P60,000 for public nurses.
Defensor filed HB No.7833 amid after the government lifted the ban on deploying nurses abroad amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the proposed bill, Defensor increased public nurses’ salary in government health institutions from Salary Grade 15 to Salary Grade 21.
Currently, public nurses, such as those working in the Department of Health (DoH)-run hospitals, receive a starting monthly pay of P32,053.
“We cannot match the starting pay being offered by North American and European hospitals to Filipino nurses, but we can match the rate being offered by employers in Saudi Arabia, for instance,” Defensor said.