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POEA restricts deployment of health workers; Licenses of landbased recruitment and manning agencies expiring on 15 March extended to 14 April

POEA restricts deployment of health workers
Samuel P. Medenilla - March 23, 2020

AMID the public health crisis in the country due to the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19), the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) has “strictly regulated” the deployment of Filipino health-care workers abroad.

POEA issued Memorandum Circular (MC) 07 A-2020 last Friday (March 20) implementing the policy, on orders of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF).

“The deployment of Filipino health-care workers shall be strictly regulated to prioritize and provide support to the health-care needs of the country during the Covid-19 pandemic,” POEA administrator Bernard P. Olalia said in MC 07 A-2020.

He said the measure will be lifted once the government declares the Covid-19 under control.
Additional manpower

Olalia said they are now coordinating with the Department of Health (DOH) to issue the guidelines for the strict regulated deployment of Filipino health-care workers.

“Regulated means that the deployment will be limited in number, and selective in skills category depending on our present stock of health workers, and taking into consideration the swift need of our government to effectively respond to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Olalia explained.

As of March 22, the DOH has already registered 380 confirmed cases of Covid-19 since January.

Health officials said the number of cases is still expected to rise as they increase the number of laboratories that could process Covid-19 samples.

The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) called on the DOH to start getting volunteer health-care workers to man its Covid-19 hospitals in anticipation of the surge in the cases of the pandemic.

It said the lack of manpower could undermine government efforts to contain the spread of the virus, which is easily transmissible but has a lower mortality rate than previous coronavirus strains like SARS and MersCov.
Extended validity

Aside from health-care workers, MC 07 A-2020 also contained a provision automatically extending by 30 days the validity of licenses of Landbased Recruitment Agencies (LRAs) and Seabased Manning Agencies (SMAs), expiring from March 15, 2020, to April 14, 2020—which is the duration of the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

Olalia said they shall be allowed to file their application for renewal, upgrading or extension upon the lifting of the total lockdown and enhanced community quarantine orders.

He said the extension of accreditation “shall not be interpreted as exemption from existing or subsequent issuances relevant to restrictions for deployment in the Philippines or restrictions of entry in countries of destination.”

Specifically for SMAs, Olalia said pending applications for renewal, upgrading and extension of their principal accreditation will be acted upon on the next working day following the lifting of the total lockdown and enhanced community quarantine orders.

Last, Olalia said seafarers, who are barred from being repatriated or disembarking due to the Covid-19 pandemic, will have their consummated contract extended for a maximum of 60 days if they fall under four conditions.

The conditions, he said, is that the seafarer is asymptomatic of Covid-19; the extension is mutually agreed upon by the seafarer and the principal; requirements for exemptions set by international seafaring authorities are complied with, if applicable; and SMAs with seafarers whose employment contracts are extended are duly reported to POEA.