By JOHN CARLO M. CAHINHINAN
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman has refuted Foreign Affairs Sec. Teddy Boy Locsin’s claim that the temporary ban on the deployment of Filipino health workers abroad is unconstitutional amid the country’s health crisis due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Lagman reminded Locsin that the rights to travel and non-impairment of contracts “are not absolute and are subject to restrictions or limitations which the State may enforce in exercise of its police power.”
Lagman stressed that no less than the 1987 Constitution under Sec. 6 of Art. III on the Bill of Rights provides that “[n]either shall the right to travel be impaired except in the interest of national security, public safety or public health, as may be provided by law.”
“The temporary ban on overseas employment of doctors, nurses and other health care workers imposed by the Governing Board of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) on April 2, 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic is constitutional,” said Lagman.
The Albay solon explained that the enforcement of the ban on foreign deployment of migrant workers “has been duly delegated by the legislature under the established standards of national interest or public welfare to the POEA Governing Board.”
The veteran lawmaker reminded his former colleague that the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) “has to be merely consulted but it has no veto power over the decision to terminate or ban foreign employment.”
Locsin earlier slammed the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE), particularly the POEA for imposing the temporary ban on overseas employment of medical professionals amid the country’s COVID-19 crisis, saying that it’s against every Filipino’s constitutional right to travel.
The chief diplomat warned that he will challenge the deployment ban before the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) and the cabinet.
But Lagman backed the decision of the POEA, saying that in the temporary ban on foreign employment of medical professionals and workers, “there is no alteration or diminution of the terms and conditions of the concerned contracts of foreign employment to sustain a claim of illegal abridgement of contract.”
“Neither does the ban constitute involuntary servitude because medical professionals and workers are not forced to render service in the country but they are encouraged to volunteer with adequate compensation,” said Lagman.