THE PHILIPPINE Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) said it will recommend increasing the annual deployment quota for healthcare workers, with more countries now seeking to employ them.

In a statement Thursday, POEA Administrator Bernard P. Olalia said the agency will meet “with the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) to recommend the increase of the deployment cap, as urged by medical groups.”

Mr. Olalia said, however, that the Philippines has not yet filled its 6,500 ceiling on healthcare worker deployments this year, but “more countries are opening their doors for Filipino (healthcare workers).”

The deployment cap was imposed by the government to ensure the availability of healthcare workers during the pandemic.

As of Wednesday, the POEA reported that the Philippines has sent 48 caregivers to Israel out of the 377 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who were supposed to be deployed last year but were delayed due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. 

The deployment of the OFWs to Israel is pursuant to the Bilateral Labor Agreement signed by Labor Secretary Silvestre H. Bello III and Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Machluf in 2018. 

Mr. Olalia said the POEA is currently processing the documents of qualified applicants for the second round of recruitment.

“(W)e are looking at more than 1,000 OFWs who will undergo the usual process of selection, hiring and matching with their respective employers in Israel,” Mr. Olalia said.

The Israeli government did not require the OFWs to be vaccinated, but they will be tested for COVID-19 and will have to undergo the mandatory quarantine protocols upon their arrival in Israel, Mr. Olalia added.

Aside from the demand for health workers such as caregivers, household service workers, and nurses, the Israeli government is also trying to fill technology, services, hospitality, and manufacturing jobs. — Bianca Angelica D. Añago