Senator Christopher “Bong” Go expressed his concerns about the proposed P19.9-billion funding allocated for unpaid allowances for healthcare workers.
“WE want to know if this budget is enough to cover the balances due to our healthcare workers. We must properly compensate our health workforce,” said Go.
Go’s concerns echo his previous calls for DOH and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to expedite the release of COVID-19 allowances for healthcare workers. He emphasized the urgency of providing healthcare workers with their well-deserved benefits, especially for their services during the pandemic.
“Naipasa naman po natin yung batas para dito noon, itong health allowance nila. Mahirap pong maging frontliner sa panahon ng pandemya, hindi po natin mababayaran ng kahit anuman po ang buhay na kanilang sinakripisyo. So pagtulungan po natin ito,” he added.
Go is one of the authors and co-sponsors in the Senate of Republic Act No. 11712, which grants benefits and allowances to healthcare workers during public health emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic. Public and private healthcare workers covered by the law are entitled to emergency allowance for every month of service during a state of public health emergency based on the risk categorization.
“While we are doing everything to make healthcare more accessible to Filipinos, let us not forget our healthcare workers. I am appealing to DOH and our finance managers to make sure that the benefits due to our healthcare workers in accordance with prevailing laws are released efficiently and without further delays,” Go appealed.
Previously, Go expressed his gratitude to President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. for showing his unwavering commitment to the welfare of healthcare workers. The senator specifically praised the President for urging the prompt release of the much-needed COVID-19 emergency allowance during his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) last July.
“Natutuwa at nagpapasalamat tayo na napakinggan ng ating Pangulo ang mga hinaing ng ating healthcare workers at tinugunan niya ito sa kanyang SONA. Even with the lifting of the State of Public Health Emergency, unahin po natin ‘yung mga medical frontliners natin na nagsakripisyo para sa ating mga kababayan,” Go said last July.
Earlier, Go also stated that “with or without the State of Public Health Emergency, the government should fulfill its obligations to protect the lives of Filipinos, safeguard their health, and give what is due to them, especially to medical frontliners.”
“Kaya umaapela po ako sa ating DBM, sa DOH, bilisan po ang pagbibigay ng allowances sa kanila dahil napakaliit po ito na halaga sa sakripisyo at buhay na ibinigay ng mga health workers. Dapat po ibigay sa kanila,” he added.
In March 2020, former president Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of public health emergency that mandated reporting, quarantine measures, and disease control prevention efforts in response to the pandemic. This state of emergency was lifted by President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. through the issuance of Proclamation No. 297 in July this year as the country navigates towards pandemic recovery.
In addition to his focus on healthcare workers, Go earlier discussed his plans to champion another round of salary increase for government workers. He has been instrumental in the passage of several laws benefiting health workers, including Republic Act No. 11466 or the Salary Standardization Law 5.
“Sana pag-aralan po ng ating executive department na magkaroon po ng bagong SSL o itong SSL 6 para mabigyan po ng increase ng sweldo kasama na po ang mga public sector nurses to encourage them na dito na lang po magtrabaho sa ating bansa,” he further suggested.
Go also called on private hospitals to consider increasing the salaries of their nurses.
“Nananawagan din po ako sa ating mga private hospitals kung sobra naman po ang inyong kita baka naman pwede ninyong i-increase naman ang sweldo ng ating mga private nurses po sa mga private hospitals,” he continued.
In line with his commitment to advance the nursing profession, Go filed the Advanced Nursing Education bill. Through Senate Bill No. 191, Go aims to strengthen the healthcare system by ensuring that nurses are equipped with the latest knowledge and skills necessary to deliver high-quality patient care.