Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, chairman of the Senate Health and Demography Committee, on Thursday reiterated his call for the grant of Special Risk Allowance (SRA) for both private and public health workers, and Active Hazard Duty Pay (AHDP) to frontline Human Resources for Health (HRH) as they continue to work in hospitals and other health facilities despite the growing threats of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
The government must protect the welfare of medical frontliners who provide critical and urgent services to respond to the ongoing pandemic, placing their lives at risk, Go said.
“Nararapat lamang na mabigyan sila ng dagdag na tulong pinansyal bilang pagkilala sa kanilang sakripisyo. Kailanman ay hindi sila pababayaan ng gobyerno,” he said. (It is but right for the government to increase the financial assistance given to them as a way of recognizing their sacrifices.)
“Ang ating mga medical frontliners ay ang mga sundalo sa giyerang ito. Sila ang tinuturing nating bayani sa laban kontra COVID-19,” he added. (Medical frontliners are our soldiers in this war. We consider them heroes in the fight against COVID-19.)
Go said that the provision of SRA and AHDP is pursuant to Republic Act (RA) No. 11494, the “Bayanihan to Recover as One Act,” which provides that the national government shall provide SRA to public and private health workers directly catering to COVID-19 patients, and AHDP to all HRH serving in the frontlines.
He said the grant of SRA recognizes that public and private health workers who are directly catering to or in contact with COVID-19 patients inevitably have the highest level of exposure to infection.
The grant of AHDP acknowledges that frontline HRH who serve in the frontlines generally encounter greater health risks and hazards than other medical or allied medical personnel not involved in the COVID-19 response.
In recognition of their heroic and invaluable contributions, Go said these health personnel should be entitled to receive the SRA and AHDP as additional compensation to mitigate the physical discomfort, distress, and perils associated with the performance of their tasks.
Earlier this year, Go proposed for national government agencies, government-owned and controlled corporations, and local government units to be authorized to grant their respective health workers a one-time COVID-19 SRA equivalent to a percentage of their basic monthly salary.
“Gamitin po natin ang pondong meron tayo para mabigyan ng proteksyon at alaga ang ating mga health workers, doctors, nurses, at iba pang frontliners,” he added. (Let us use this fund to give protection and care for our health workers, doctors, nurses, and other frontliners.)
The Senator had earlier asked concerned agencies to speed up the delivery of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to ensure the safety of healthcare professionals who continue to perform their duty amid the health threats brought about by the disease.
“Hindi lang naman po compensation ang issue dito. The best way to help the health sector respond to this crisis is by sufficiently providing them with the tools and protection needed to do their job,” Go said. (Compensation is not just the issue here.)