THE Department of Migrant Workers (DMW) is pushing for the easing of the existing deployment cap for healthcare workers (HCWs), saying such a policy cannot be imposed forever.

In a television interview, DMW Secretary Susan Ople said she believes that the status quo on the HCW deployment cap must no longer be maintained by the Philippine government.

“For DMW, it should be eased. It should not be totally eliminated, but rationalized,” Ople said on Monday, October 31, 2022.

“The deployment cap cannot last forever without any reforms taking place here in our country,” she added.

She said this is because it would be unfair for medical professionals to be forced to stay in the country.

“It’s their profession. They invested years, money, knowledge, and skills,” said Ople.

She also stressed that the demand for Filipino nurses and other healthcare workers is not expected to ease anytime soon.

“Our HCWs, I don’t see the trend weakening. This profession is bullet proof whatever happens with the economy. Because of what happened with the pandemic, they will remain a highly valued profession,” said Ople.

In September this year, Department of Health (DOH) Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said they are in favor of maintaining the HCW deployment cap despite the weakening of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

Labor groups rejected the idea, saying the policy violates the right of HCWs to travel and work abroad.

To note, the Philippine government has set a deployment cap of 7,000 HCWs per year in a bid to ensure that there will be no shortage of medical workers in the country. In a bid to rationalize the deployment cap, Ople said an inter-agency technical working group will be coordinating with the DOH.

She said the DMW proposed to the inter-agency panel, among others, the creation of a scholarship fund for medical students.

“We suggested to DOH that for countries, where we have bilateral labor agreements that cover the deployment of medical workers, we can put up a scholarship fund and ask the employers and foreign stakeholders to contribute to the scholarship fund,” she said.

“We will partner with the DOH in identifying who will be the scholars. That’s an idea I proposed to OIC Vergeire,” added Ople. (HDT/SunStar Philippines)