POEA says more than 136,000 seafarers deployed since July

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 1) — More than 136,000 seafarers were deployed since July when restrictions were eased, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration said Thursday.

POEA chief Bernard Olalia told a Senate budget hearing that 136,625 seafarers left the country in July to September after the establishment of a green lane for seafarers that includes looking after their safety in the wake of COVID-19.

In terms of assistance, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration chief Hans Cacdac said they were able to provide P10,000 one-time cash aid and livelihood assistance to 80,000 returning seafarers.

“Cruise ships owners are still willing to hire them back so it’s a question of what they can do to make themselves productive while awaiting the return of cruise ship operation,” he said.

Meanwhile, some senators are pushing the Labor department to lift the suspension of deployment of nurses abroad.

Sen. Nancy Binay the country has half a million nurses, but only 90,000 are needed by private and public facilities.

Binay and Sen. Joel Villanueva asked Labor Sec. Silvestre Bello III to consider lifting the ban. Bello said he is open to the idea, adding that the restriction is to make sure that the country has enough medical professionals in case the pandemic worsens.

On Sept. 21, President Rodrigo Duterte allowed the deployment of health workers with complete employment documents as of August. 31, a move seen to benefit 1,500 nurses.