By Macon Araneta

Citing reports that in America alone, up to 30 percent of the nurses  succumbed to COVID-19 are Filipinos, Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Michael Defensor said Filipino nurses  in the US and other parts of the world are bearing the brunt of the pandemic.

Defensor, House Health committee vice-chairperson, said this is due to the exceptional work ethic of Filipino nurses

“Filipino nurses in America, for instance, won’t hesitate to perform additional work on weekends and holidays, or to work the graveyard shift, when their co-workers would prefer to be off duty,” related Defensor.

He said this is also the reason why they tend to be more exposed to the coronavirus.

According to the National Nurses United, the largest nurses’ union in America, 74 of the 245 nurses who have died of the coronavirus disease in the US as of November are Filipinos.

The Congressman said it is not unusual for a Philippine-educated nurse in California or Texas to be on call by two or even three hospitals.

“They make themselves available when needed, such as when co-workers are suddenly unable to report for work. So they really are more exposed,” Defensor said.

Defensor also offered an explanation for what he called the “unusual dedication to work” of many Filipino nurses who have chosen to practice their profession overseas, not just in America.

“Many Filipino nurses abroad started out by working and living alone – away from their family and friends here.”

He noted that this tends to build character as they are forced to rely on their core values in order to survive.

“The fact that Filipino nurses in foreign lands are getting rewarded generously (by their employers) merely reinforces their belief that what they are doing must be good,” Defensor said.

Defensor is the  author of House Bill 7933, which seeks to double to PHP60,901 the entry-level monthly pay for Philippine government nurses to discourage at least some of them from seeking greener pastures abroad.

American TV talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres recently gifted a Filipino nurse in Los Angeles, Flor Maylyn Roz, with a brand-new SUV in recognition of her role as a frontliner in the fight against COVID-19.

The British ambassador to the Philippines, Daniel Pruce, earlier also lauded Filipino nurses in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service for their huge role in battling the pandemic.

“A fantastic moment! And great to see that the first (COVID-19) vaccine (in the UK) is administered by nurse May Parsons from the Philippines – one of the thousands of Filipino healthcare workers making an enormous contribution to the NHS,” Pruce said in a tweet.

Way back in April, British journalist and TV personality Piers Morgan commended the “outstanding care” of Filipino nurses.

“It’s worth bearing in mind when we talk about immigrants in this country, these are the immigrants currently saving people’s lives. Coming here and actually enriching our country and doing an amazing job,” Morgan said in his Good Morning Britain TV program.

“So thank you to all the Filipinos who are here doing all this amazing work and to every other working in the NHS currently. I hope at the end of this, we’ll have a, perhaps a different sentiment, a different feeling about what immigration has done for this country,” Morgan added.

Philippine-educated nurses have been migrating to the UK for years.

In 2013, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh – the husband of Queen Elizabeth II – joked about the number of Filipinos working in the NHS during a visit to open a cardiac center at Luton and Dunstable Hospital.

The Prince made a Filipino nurse at the hospital laugh with his off-the-cuff remark: “The Philippines must be half-empty – you’re all here running the NHS.”