RECOGNIZING the sacrifices of medical frontliners amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Senator Christopher “Bong” Go vowed to push for a measure providing health workers continuing and more inclusive allocation of allowances and benefits while the state of emergency due to the pandemic is in force.
During his monitoring visit of the Malasakit Center at the Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Sr. Medical Center in Ozamiz City, Misamis Occidental on Tuesday, October 12, Go thanked all the Malasakit Center and hospital employees and medical frontliners for the service they have rendered throughout the pandemic, especially in saving and protecting lives of the most vulnerable sectors of society.
“Pinaka-importante ito sa lahat, ang pasalamatan natin ang mga hero ngayong panahon na hindi nababayaran ang sakripisyo – ang ating mga frontliners, maraming salamat sa inyong lahat. Doctors, nurses, medtech, pati mga security guards at mga utility workers,” said Go in his speech during his visit.
He then assured them that he will push for Senate Bill No. 2421 which grants COVID-19 benefits and allowances to public and private health workers during the state of public health emergency.
“Nag-file ako sa Senado, itong inyong Special Risk Allowance or incentives. Walang pili dapat. Itong sinasabi nila na itong mga exposed lang daw, bibilangin ‘yung mga exposed? Pagpasok mo ng ospital, exposed ka na. Bakit? Makikita mo ba ang COVID? maliit lang itong tulong kumapara sa inyong sakripisyo sa panahon ngayon,” said Go.
“Ako nandito lang at ipaglalaban ko ang inyong kapakanan. Hindi ko na ipagyayabang dahil ‘yan ang aming trabaho,” he added.
The measure provides a COVID-19 Risk Allowance in lieu of the special risk allowance; active hazard duty pay; life insurance; and meals, accommodations, and transportation (MAT) allowance under Bayanihan 2.
The allowance will be given for every month served depending on the risk exposure of the healthcare workers. Those deployed in “low risk areas” shall be given P3,000 per month; those deployed in “medium risk areas” shall be given P6,000 per month; and those deployed in “high risk areas” shall be given P9,000 per month.
In addition to the COVID-19 allowance, the proposed measure also provides compensation to health workers in the event of COVID-19 exposure or any work-related illness or disease. Furthermore, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation will also continue to cover all of their medical expenses.
The benefits shall have a retroactive application from July 1, 2021, and shall remain in full force and effect during the state of the national public health emergency.
SBN 2421 is the committee report sponsored by Senate Committee on Finance Chair Sen. Sonny Angara. It takes into consideration SB 2398 which Go authored.
During the visit, Go’s team also provided meals, food packs, vitamins, masks, and face shields to 301 patients and 514 rank and file employees of the hospital.
They also gave new shoes or bicycles to select individuals for their daily commuting needs. They likewise gave away computer tablets to help their children with their school activities under the blended learning set-up.
He said that, despite his candidacy for vice president in 2022, he remains focused on pandemic response, adding that election or political talks can wait.
“Kalimutan muna natin ‘yung pulitika. Huwag nating pag-usapan ang pulitika ngayon, importante sa atin malampasan muna natin itong krisis. Baka wala na tayong pulitikang pag-uusapan kung hindi natin malampasan ito,” said Go.
Ending his message, the senator then urged the public to get vaccinated against COVID-19 to ensure that they are protected against the virus, as well as their families and communities.
“Kaya pakiusap ko lang sa mga taga-Ozamiz, nandito naman ang mga health workers dito kung mahal ninyo ang inyong mga health workers, kung ayaw niyo na silang pahirapan pa, magpabakuna na kayo,” he ended.
On the same day, Go also personally attended the launch of the country’s 143rd Malasakit Center at the Doña Maria D. Tan Memorial Hospital in Tangub City. Go proceeded to distribute aid to small business owners at the Sinanduloy Culture Center in Tangub City; and to various sectors affected by the pandemic at the Medina Gym in Ozamiz City.
Republic Act 11463 or the Malasakit Centers Act of 2019, authored and sponsored by Go, was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in December 2019. The law mandates the establishment of the centers in every DOH-run hospital nationwide and in the Philippine General Hospital in Manila.
Other public hospitals can also establish their own Malasakit Centers provided they meet the standard set of criteria and guarantee the availability of funds for the center’s operation.
More than three million has benefited so far from the services of the Malasakit Center.
The Mayor Hilarion A. Ramiro Sr. Medical Center was recently improved through RA 11563 that Go sponsored in the Senate to increase its bed capacity from 500 to 1,000 beds. The measure was signed into law by President Duterte last June 24, 2021.