DAVAO City 1st District Rep. Paolo “Pulong” Duterte has urged the Senate to place on its priority list the passage of the proposed Magna Carta of Barangay Health Workers (BHW) as this measure will help fill the gap in the delivery of community-based primary health care services in the country.
Duterte issued the call following the third-reading approval of the House of Representatives of its version of the proposed magna carta for BHWs last week. House Bill (HB) 6557, a consolidation of more than 40 similar measures, was transmitted to the Senate on December 14, 2022.
“There are at least a dozen bills in the Senate proposing a magna carta for barangay health workers that still need to be reconciled and consolidated into a substitute bill. We hope the Senate would be able to prioritize the passage of its counterpart measure of the magna carta when Congress resumes session next month,” Duterte said.
Duterte pointed out that while the Philippines has been adopting the community-based healthcare strategy for almost four decades now, “the key component of this program—the BHWs—have yet to be properly recognized and granted the pay and benefits they deserve.”
Once the magna carta is enacted into law, Duterte said he expects more people to volunteer their services and train as BHWs given the additional compensation and benefits that they will receive under the measure.
Duterte, who has cited the “heroic role” that barangay health workers play as healthcare frontliners, is among the principal authors of the House-approved version of the magna carta for BHWs.
“The measure unanimously approved by the House on third and final reading tasks the Department of Health (DoH) to determine the ideal ratio of BHWs to the number of households. The DOH should also ensure that the total number of BHWs nationwide should not be less than one percent of the total population or at least one BHW per 20 households. This ratio should help address the lack of primary health care services in many communities, especially in remote areas,” Duterte said.
HB 6557 retained the proposal of Duterte and other lawmakers to grant accredited BHWs a monthly honorarium of not less than P3,000 each, and transportation allowance of not less than P1,000 per month.
The bill also included Duterte’s proposal to set the minimum hazard allowance that accredited BHWs can receive at not less than P1,000 a month, while their subsistence allowance is set at not less than P100 per day.
Duterte noted that under the existing law—Republic Act 7883 or the Barangay Health Workers Benefits and Incentives Act—BHWs are already entitled to hazard allowance and subsistence allowance, but the pay they receive has no set minimum amount.
BHWs, who should be registered with, and accredited by, the health boards of the local government units (LGUs) are also entitled to receive health and disability benefits, insurance coverage, vacation and maternity leaves and cash gifts under HB 6557.
The proposed magna carta also grants a one-time gratuity cash incentive of not less than P10,000 “in recognition of the BHW’s loyalty and dedication and for having continuously and satisfactorily served at least  years”.
Duterte’s proposal to provide BHWs with a 20 percent discount on goods and services similar to those given to senior citizens was also incorporated into the bill’s final version.