SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent directive to the Department of Health (DOH) to make sure that health workers’ benefits are immediately and sufficiently disbursed as provided by law.
Go, who serves as Chair of the Senate Commitee on Health, emphasized that health workers are on the frontlines in this war against COVID-19. Hence, the government should not waste time or resources in providing doctors, nurses and other qualified medical personnel what is due to them.
“Ang ating mga medical frontliners ang ating sundalo sa laban na ito. Sinasakripisyo nila ang buhay nila para lang maisalba ang buhay ng ating kapwa. Kaya kung anuman ang dapat nila matanggap, ibigay na agad at huwag nang ipagpaliban pa,” Go stressed.
In his Tuesday, August 17 Talk to the People address, President Duterte asked Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to make sure that the payment of health workers’ allowances remains a top priority.
“Itong frontliners, unahin mo na lang, if there is enough money, bayaran mo,” Duterte said.
Under the Bayanihan 2 law, at least PhP15 billion has been earmarked for the payment of health workers’ special risk allowance and hazard pay, which has been been released to hospitals, according to DOH Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega.
The DOH spent P10.85 billion for the special risk allowance (SRA) of 740,958 health workers, and another P4.24 billion for the hazard pay of 864,843 frontliners, according to Health Undersecretary Vega.
The DOH clarified that healthcare workers who failed to receive their special risk allowance and hazard pay may have lacked several requirements to avail of these monetary benefits.
Meanwhile, SDuque assured that they are verifying and addressing concerns that some public health frontliners have not yet been paid.
Go commended DOH for acting on the President’s directive and for their efforts in leading the country’s COVID-19 response and management of the pandemic. He urged them to remain focused on their tasks at hand despite the criticisms, emphasizing that their job is to save lives.
“Naiintindihan ko na mahirap ang trabaho ng DOH ngayon pero huwag po sana kayo paghinaan ng loob dahil buo ang suporta at tiwala namin ni Pangulong Duterte sa inyo. Kayo ang mas nakakaalam sa laban na ito. Kayo ang nagtatrabaho para mailigtas ang buhay ng mga Pilipino,” Go said.
“Kaya pakiusap ko sa aking mga kasamahan sa gobyerno, suportahan po natin ang ating DOH at ang iba pang nagtatrabaho para maitawid ang ating bansa mula sa krisis na ito. Kailangan dito ang suporta at kooperasyon ng lahat,” he added.
According to Go, the Congress labored long and hard to pass the Bayanihan 2 Law, which provides for the health workers’ allowances, and it is now up to the concerned agencies to effectively administer it.
“Pinaghirapan namin sa Kongreso na maipasa ang batas na ito kasama ang mga benepisyong dapat matanggap ng mga health workers. Walang katumbas ang sakripisyo nila at ang iba ay nagbubuwis pa ng buhay upang proteksyunan at makapagserbisyo sa kapwa,” said Go.
Throughout the pandemic, Go has been aggressive in promoting the interests and protecting the welfare of medical frontline workers.
“Gamitin po natin ang pondong mayro’n tayo para mabigyan ng proteksyon at alaga ang ating mga health workers, doctors, nurses at iba pang frontliners,” said Go.
The Senator earlier successfully appealed for free COVID-19 testing, personal protective equipment, hazard pay, and special risk allowances for health workers at the start of the outbreak.
In December of last year, Go also made a request to the Department of Budget and Management and the DOH to speed up the flow of funds and the fulfillment of their commitments, citing reported delays in the SRA and Active Hazard Pay benefits.
“Bigyan natin ng pansin ang mga karapatan at pangangailangan ng frontliners. Pakinggan at tulungan natin sila dahil sila ang mga sundalong araw-araw na humaharap at nakikibaka upang magtagumpay ang ating bansa sa hamon na dala ng COVID-19,” he added.
Following the increase in Nurse I salary, the Senator has also expressed support for the DOH’s request to raise the salary grade of Nurse II positions commensurate with their tasks. He also authored the Salary Standardization Law 5, which raises the pay of civilian government employees, including public healthcare workers.
“Ni piso at ni isang minuto ay hindi dapat masayang dahil buhay ang kapalit nito. Magmalasakit tayo sa ating kapwa. Walang tigil dapat ang serbisyo lalo na sa panahon ngayon na nangangailangan ang mga Pilipino,” he said.