Senator Risa Hontiveros on Friday urged the Department of Health (DOH) to immediately address the unpaid salaries and benefits of health workers who have been enduring months of difficult and dangerous work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hontiveros said the best way the government can truly show its appreciation to medical frontliners is by giving them the proper salaries and benefits due them under the law.
“Ibigay natin ang sweldo at proteksyon na nararapat para sa ating mga health workers bilang pagkilala sa kanilang kabayanihan at sakripisyo (Let’s us give the salary and protection our health workers deserve in recognition of their heroic deeds and sacrifices),” she said.
Hontiveros warned the country’s frontliners will be demoralized if the government fails to address the delays in the release of their salaries.
This will also affect the government’s campaign to recruit more nurses, doctors, contact tracers, and other medical professionals for the country’s COVID-19 related programs.
“Pinipilit natin ang mga health workers na manatili sa bansa sa pamamagitan ng health worker deployment ban, pero hindi natin maibigay ng tama ang sweldo na kailangan nila para buhayin ang kanilang pamilya (We are insisting on health workers to stay in the country by imposing the health worker deployment ban, but we are unable to provide them the right pay which they need to support their families),” she added.
“This is an unjust situation which the government must correct immediately,” Hontiveros said.
The senator made the call following reports of many contractual contact tracers hired four months ago by the DOH who have yet to receive their salaries even after some of them already have expired contracts.
Reports also said that some medical workers in public facilities such as the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) have not been receiving their hazard pay as required by law.
“Maliit na ang sahod, hindi pa naibibigay on time. Ito ba talaga ang tamang pagtrato sa ating frontliners? (They’re receiving little compensation, and these are not being given on time. Is this how we treat our frontliners?)” she asked.
“The DOH needs to act with more haste in processing the salaries and benefits of our medical workers who perform tasks critical to our health response against the pandemic, such as contact tracing, testing, and treatment of COVID-19 patients,” she added.
She said the DOH must also work overtime to streamline its processes so that it can end month-long delays in payments to medical workers,
Under the new Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2, Hontiveros said public and private health workers treating COVID-19 cases are entitled to a P10,000 Special Risk Allowance.
“Sana naman itong special risk allowance ay hindi abutin ng ilang buwan bago makuha ng ating frontliners (I hope our frontliners won’t have to wait for long before they receive their special risk allowance),” she said.