The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) has opposed a proposed measure that seeks to require nurses who graduated from government-subsidized schools to perform two years of compulsory services in the country before they can work abroad.
Former senator Ernesto Herrera, secretary general of the labor group, described the scheme as “counterproductive and highly repressive.”
“We regard the bill as prejudicial and totally unnecessary, considering the massive oversupply of nurses locally,” Herrera said Saturday.
House Bill 5791 seeks to require nursing graduates of state colleges and universities to render domestic services before they can lawfully be employed abroad.
Under the bill, the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC) has to certify that the nurse has fulfilled two years of local service before he or she may seek foreign employment.
The officials of any agency that recruits a state-educated nurse without the proper PRC certification faces six to 10 years imprisonment plus a fine of P50,000 to P100,000 per violation.
The committees on labor and employment and on civil service in the House of Representatives earlier jointly endorsed the bill for floor debate and approval.
“The country has a large surplus of nurse practitioners. Local job openings are limited. The government might as well help those who want to seek employment overseas,” noted Herrera, former chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resource development.
Herrera added that every year, the Philippines produces 25,000 new registered nurses but some 15,000 or 60 percent of them go abroad. “However, no less than the Department of Health says only 1,000 to 2,000 of them are being absorbed locally by the private sector and the government.”
Records from the Commission on Higher Education showed that as of June, a total of 386,531 were enrolled in 460 nursing schools nationwide.
If Congress must intercede in the nursing labor market, Herrera said, “it must do so in a progressive manner, by for example, augmenting the pay of nurses in government service, particularly those in public hospitals.”
He added that based on the United States National Council of State of Board of Nursing, from January to September 2006, a total of 10,290 Filipino nurses sought jobs in America alone. — Sheila Crisostomo