Locsin says Filipino nurses must return to their jobs abroad
Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr on Friday said banning health care workers from going back abroad to attend to their jobs violates the Constitution.
Locsin made the statement after receiving reports that some nurses going back to the United Kingdom were stopped at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA).
“Filipino NHS (National Health Service) nurses were stopped at NAIA from returning to their contracted jobs in the UK. This violates the Constitution in three ways: right to travel, inviolability of contracts, punitive ex-post facto resolution. BI Com (Bureau of Immigration Commissioner Jaime) Morente (is) powerless to help. I'm helping him,” he said in a tweet.
Locsin said the ban should have been announced weeks before its effectivity date.
“Unless we wanted to round up our nurses before they can escape to their constitutionally protected jobs abroad. Ban cannot constitutionally apply to health workers with existing jobs abroad,” he said.
In a separate tweet, Foreign Undersecretary Brigido Dulay showed the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) Governing Board Resolution No. 09-202 to Locsin in which he replied: “Well they are wrong, dead wrong, and violating the Constitution”.
“That only makes sense and justice if we pay them foreign rates and later?this is gonna be my work?negotiate first class work contracts for them because I don't trust people in the pockets of recruiters. If suspension, we owe departing health workers mucho in Euros,” Locsin said.
Locsin also said DFA’s view on the matter was ignored after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III told him that the DFA representative did not object on the resolution which made the vote unanimous.
“Well I, as Secretary of Foreign Affairs, object to it and fill up the silence of the DFA representative. I reject this abomination,” he said.
He reminded the government that the POEA ban also violates the Interagency Task Force resolution protecting OFW contract work abroad from any restriction.
“Especially nurses now that their worth will be appreciated even more by their foreign hosts,” he added.
“The fight is not over. We will fight the ban in the IATF. We will fight the ban in Cabinet... We will never surrender our constitutional right to travel and our contractual right to work where there is need for our work,” he said.
Locsin said he will bring the matter to IATF’s agenda for Monday’s meeting.
“I want this on the agenda of the IATF meeting on Monday. No discussion. Long discussions spread Covid19 as we have seen even via teleconference. Just a raising of hands?for our people or against our people. Also no one talks who is not a Cabinet member,” he said.
Based on POEA Governing Board Resolution No. 09-2020, a total of 14 occupations in the health care sector will not be allowed to be deployed while the COVID-19 outbreak rages.
"The POEA Governing Board resolves that the deployment of all health care workers included in the list above is hereby temporarily suspended until the national state of emergency is lifted and until COVID-19-related travel restrictions are lifted at the destination countries," said the POEA.
Included in the list are medical doctor/physician, nurse, microbiologist molecular biologist, medical technologist, clinical analyst, respiratory therapist, pharmacist, laboratory technician, X-ray/radiologic technician, nursing assistant/nursing aide, operator of medical equipment, supervisor of health services and personal care, and repairman of medical-hospital equipment.
Also suspended for the duration of the national state of emergency are the negotiations of bilateral labor agreements for government-to-government deployment of health care workers.
The POEA said the move is necessary as the country's health facilities, personnel, and other resources are currently under severe strain due to the rising number of persons affected by the COVID-19, including the Persons Under Investigation (PUI), and Persons under Monitoring (PUM). Ella Dionisio/DMS