Sen. Joel Villanueva called on the government Friday to make sure that contract tracers are being paid on time, following reports that contact tracers hired by the Department of Health between May and June this year whose contracts are about to expire this month have not yet received their salaries.
“The report on contact tracers from the DoH not able to receive their salaries is bothering. No wonder they are having trouble hiring people because this incident shows that undervalued our workers are,” Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment, and Human Resources Development, said.
Villanueva said the plight of contact tracers was unacceptable, stressing their contributions to policymakers in controlling and determining the spread of COVID-19.
“The least we could do to our contact tracers is to ensure they are paid on time. There should not be any further delay with their salaries considering that short time of their engagement,” he said.
“If there are incomplete requirements, DoH staff should help the contact tracers comply because we know that they are swamped with tracking down the contacts of COVID-positive patients,” he added.
Villanueva said the DoH’s reported failure to pay contract tracers has substantiated the reason for the desire of Filipino health workers to work abroad.
“Because of this problem coming into light, we are not surprised anymore that very few of our healthcare workers in general are not heeding the call of DoH to join their ranks,” added the senator, who has been calling to lift the deployment ban on medical and allied workers.
He reiterated that health authorities should improve the pay and the terms of employment for nurses and other health workers so they would be enticed to join the DoH’s emergency employment program amid the travel ban.
Villanueva asked the Department of the Interior and Local Government to improve the processing of applicants so that their manpower complement would not have to wait for months to receive their salaries.
“We hope the DILG takes heed from the experience of the contact tracers at the DoH considering that it will be hiring around 50,000 workers and they will be coming from different local government units,” he said.
Under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, or Bayanihan 2, P5 billion was allocated for the DILG’s hiring of 50,000 contact tracers, including their training and compensation.