Sen. Richard Gordon questioned the restrictions on the deployment abroad of just 5,000 Filipino nurses within the calendar year, stressing that it is a violation of the Constitution.
“You have no right to stop somebody seeking employment abroad even if there’s a war,” Gordon told POEA.
“I’m saying (the restrictions) may be attacked as arbitrary, excessive and oppressive. That’s my position,” he added.
The POEA temporarily stopped the deployment of newly-hired nurses and healthcare
workers overseas and halted the issuance of Overseas Employment Certificates
(OEC) for nurses after the agency reached the annual deployment cap quota last June.
According to data provided by the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC), there are currently 512,719 licensed nurses in the country, while there are only 165,361
employed in private and public health facilities.
Labor Sec. Silvestre Bello III was also quoted in a 2021 radio interview that there was an “oversupply” of nurses in the country, which begs the validity of the deployment ban.
Gordon said the current restrictions violate Article II, Section 9 of the 1987 Constitution that provides for the improvement in living standards through policies that promote full employment, whether locally or abroad.
He previously appealed to the IATF and POEA to reconsider the restrictive measure as seven nurses who were then applying in Qatar faced a similar predicament.
In the letter, Gordon argued that the deployment of nurses abroad can help alleviate the country’s unemployment problem and improve its struggling economy through dollar remittances.
On June 18, POEA Administrator Bernardo Olalia informed Gordon that the IATF passed Resolution 122 on June 17, which allows the increase of healthcare workers’ annual deployment ceiling to 6,500 from the 5,000 cap.
As a long-time advocate of the Health sector, Gordon continuously promotes the welfare of every health worker in the country by creating policies that are beneficial to them.
He also recently co-authored Senate Bill 2371, a measure granting the continued benefits of essential healthcare workers, including nurses, who risk their lives in the COVID-19 pandemic.
It mandates the continuing grant of special risk allowance (SRA) and other benefits to both public and private health workers.