By Aurea Calica and Jose Rodel Clapano Updated March 01, 2009 12:00 AM
MANILA, Philippines - Senate President Pro Tempore Jinggoy Estrada called on the government to take action against New Zealand Nursing Council’s alleged discrimination of Filipino nurses.
Estrada, chairman of the Senate committee on labor and employment, took issue with the Council’s director, David Wills, for allegedly belittling Filipino nurses.
Wills reportedly questioned the quality of nursing training programs in the Philippines based on his observation that the number of nursing students in the country boomed from 30,000 in 2004 to 450,000 in 2008.
Wills said that New Zealand as well as other overseas nursing authorities had stopped registering Filipino nurses because of concerns over their qualifications.
Estrada said the official should be slapped with a diplomatic protest if no public apology would be made.
“We should defend our countrymen, especially our overseas Filipino workers, against this affront,” Estrada said.
He said his office received a letter-complaint from a Filipino nurse who spent at least $8,000 to process her application and deployment to New Zealand, but was eventually denied registration by the Council, resulting in her current status as an unemployed and overstaying alien in that country.
During his radio program on dzRH, Estrada spoke over the phone to Philippine Ambassador to Wellington Bienvenido Tejano, who reported there were about 50 “distressed” overstaying Filipinos in New Zealand, many of them nurses who were denied registration by the Council.
Tejano feared that the number of distressed Filipinos in New Zealand would increase following the non-registration of Filipino nurses.
Wills was quoted in news reports as saying that “it is easier to get a fresh graduate from Kenya registered than someone from the Philippines.”
“I won’t allow them to treat our nurses that way, with due respect to nurses from Kenya,” Estrada said.
He said the number of students taking up nursing should not in any way be viewed as a decrease in the quality of nursing education in the Philippines.
Estrada urged the Department of Foreign Affairs to immediately file a diplomatic protest against Wills and demand a public apology from the Council director.
According to Estrada, his office also received a letter from New Zealand national Bill Marshall, who said: “Based on my personal experience, having been a patient in Middlemore Hospital heart ward, I can say thank God for nurses from the Philippines. It has occurred to me that our hospital system (in New Zealand) could risk collapse without the contingent of Filipino nurses that we have. Filipino nurses deserve our respect.”
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