Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III on Friday said the resolution of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration banning the deployment of healthcare workers overseas until the national state of emergency is lifted was approved by the representative of the Department of Foreign Affairs to the POEA Governing Board.
)Bello, who sits as POEA Governing Board chairman, made the statement after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. slammed on Twitter the temporary deployment ban.
"The restriction was based on a unanimous resolution of the Governing Board of POEA where DFA was represented. The DFA representative voted in favor of the resolution and so did the resource person from the Department of Health," Bello told Manila Standard in a text message.
Bello said the temporary travel restriction aimed to sustain the country's fight against the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Locsin was livid on Twitter Thursday, saying the ban violates the Constitution.
“Have idiots ever heard of Constitutional right to travel especially to get the hell out of here and get decent jobs and decent pay abroad? Government can ban those whose education it financially supported. Not those who had scraped to pay tuition,” he said on Twitter.
When a Twitter user noted that the resolution was not signed by any health representative, Locsin said the move only served to make the POEA Governing Board appear patriotic at the expense of outbound health workers.
“Exactly, p**ina, just so some of us get too feel like patriots at the expense of others who get treated like wage slaves. Shet,” the foreign affairs chief said.
The resolution cited Section 4(m) of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act which authorized the President to “engage temporary Human Resource for Health such as medical and allied medical staff to complement or supplement the current health workforce or to man the temporary medical facilities to be established."
Among those covered by the temporary deployment ban are doctors, nurses, microbiologists, molecular biologists, medical technologists, clinical analysts, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, laboratory technicians, x-ray or radiologic technicians, nursing assistants, supervisor of health services and personal care, and repairman of medical-hospital equipment.
Locsin insisted health workers can only be forced to remain in the country if the government pays them in euros.
“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,” he said.
But under the Bayanihan Act, health workers may be tapped by government provided they receive allowance, compensation, and actual hazard duty pay.