By Mario Casayuran
Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go reiterated on Saturday his call for the provision of special risk allowance (SRA) for public health workers (PHWs) on duty in hospitals and other health facilities attending to COVID-19 patients.
In a statement sent to Senate reporters, Go said that the government must protect the welfare of PHWs who provide critical services and put their lives at risk in the current national health emergency.
“Sa kabila ng enhanced community quarantine, patuloy pong nagseserbisyo sa bayan ang ating frontliners na mga public health workers upang masiguro ang ating kalusugan at kaligtasan,” he said. (Despite enhanced community quarantine, they continue their service to ensure our safety and health.)
Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, stressed that the frontliners deserve to receive a risk allowance on top of hazard pay for their sacrifices, saying, “Nararapat lamang na mabigyan sila ng special risk allowance. Kailanman ay hindi sila pababayaan ng gobyerno.” (It is just right that they be given special risk allowance. Government should not neglect their welfare.)
Under Section 4 of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, President Rodrigo Duterte is given the temporary authority to provide SRA to PHWs. PHWs may refer to medical, allied medical and other necessary personnel assigned to hospitals and healthcare facilities and who are directly catering to or in contact with COVID-19 patients, Persons Under Investigation, or Persons Under Monitoring.
Go proposed that national government agencies, government-owned and controlled corporations, and local government units would be authorized to grant their respective PHWs a one-time COVID-19 SRA equivalent to a percentage of their basic monthly salary.
This means that PHWs may be granted SRA on top of the existing hazard pay they are receiving under the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers or the COVID-19 hazard pay under Administrative Order No. 26 (s. 2020), whichever is higher.
Noting their important role in the fight against the virus, Go, a member of the Joint Oversight Committee for the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, said that more government funds should be utilized for increased protection of the frontliners, particularly nurses, doctors, and other public health workers.
Earlier, Go also urged government to provide hazard pay even to job order and contract of service workers employed by the national government as long as they are required to report to work amid the enhanced community quarantine.
On March 23, Duterte issued Administrative Order No. 26 (s. 2020) granting hazard pay to government personnel, including job order and contract of service workers, who render work during the quarantine period.