No plans to lift deployment ban on healthcare workers despite pleas

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 1) — The hundreds of healthcare workers hoping to leave the country for work would have to stay put as the government has no plans of overturning the deployment ban.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque on Tuesday said there are no plans to lift the ban despite countless appeals from medical frontliners whose livelihood are affected by President Rodrigo Duterte's order.

"Wala po siguro kasi napagusapan iyan sa IATF [Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases] and we all concurred with the opinion of the President, except for Secretary Locsin," he said in a media briefing.

[Translation: There are no plans to lift it in the near future. We discussed it in the IATF and we all concurred with the opinion of the President, except for Secretary Locsin.]

Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. on August 28 said he is constantly losing when he pushes the IATF to respect the rights of healthcare workers by allowing them to travel and work where they wish.

READ: POEA says only 600 health workers are affected by the deployment ban

Roque said the decision to continue the deployment ban is for the welfare of the frontliners.

"It is to protect the health and lives of our frontliners primarily. Secondary ang [is] our own need for nurses and medical professionals in this country," he said.

Duterte previously said healthcare workers should stay in the country as "reserve force" should the pandemic worsen.

The government has flip-flopped on the deployment ban. In April, officials announced the exemption of all medical workers who have competed their documents as of March 8, ahead of the imposition of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine. An August 17 resolution of the IATF stated the temporary suspension of the deployment of all medical and allied health workers, without mentioning any exemptions. That resolution was revised on August 20, with government now allowing those who have secured contracts and overseas employment certificates before March 8 to leave the country to work.