The Duterte government’s temporary suspension on the deployment of health workers to Israel is a timely call to guarantee the protection of their lives and safety. However, DOLE Secretary Bello also needs to ensure the livelihood of our medical workers who are looking forward to the opportunity to secure employment for the well-being of their families especially during this pandemic.
Migrante International believes that the ban on deployment will breed or encourage human trafficking of Filipinos who are desperate to take the risk of working in dangerous and difficult conditions overseas rather than endure poverty in the country such as the experiences of Filipino women recently trafficked to Syria.
Moreover, why does the Duterte administration send medical workers to a war zone in Israel during this critical period when the country badly needs these health workers to address the daily rise of COVID cases in the thousands? Besides, what measures are being taken to ensure the safety of the Filipino workers in the war-torn areas?
If DOLE Secretary Bello sincerely shows concern for the health workers, he can simply take action to address their long time miseries at home such as low salaries, poor working conditions, fake promises and demotion in the salary grade of public nurses, contractual position for long periods of time, below minimum wage for private nurses, the list is endless.
Migrante International has revealed in a recent online forum how Filipino frontline health workers in the UK, US, Canada, and the Middle East are neglected, overworked, exposed to COVID victims with many falling victims themselves and died. Thanks to the support, unity and solidarity of compatriots and friends abroad, the neglected and abandoned have been taken care of.
But the Duterte government doesn’t really care. Labor export remains a profitable business scheme especially during this time of the pandemic. Nurses being traded for vaccines indeed! Health workers pambala ng kanyon (bullets for guns) in Israel!
Migrante International reiterates its call for health workers such as:
1) mass hiring of health care workers;
2) increased wages and job security;
3) mass testing in the communities and to frontline health workers;
4) provide adequate protection like PPEs and protective equipment;
5) adequate benefits like hazard pay and special allowances;
6) fight discrimination against health care workers in hospitals at home and abroad;
7) stop harassments and red tagging against health workers who are the sacrificial lambs in this pandemic;
8) strengthen the public health care system both in the Philippines and around the world because obviously privatization and neoliberal policies still rule.
Duterte and his minions should resign from their post if they cannot ensure the protection and safety of the Filipino health workers and everyone.###