TACLOBAN CITY (PNA) – Twenty-four members of municipal disaster risk reduction and management offices (MDRRMOs) in Northern Samar on Friday appealed to the national government to grant hazard pay to disaster responders and volunteers battling the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
In an open letter addressed to National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) Chairperson and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and NDRRMC Executive Director and Office of the Civil Defense (OCD) chief Undersecretary Ricardo Jalad, they said that no law or other national issuances grant them hazard pay or other compensatory benefits despite their role as “cannon fodder” to all types of hazards.
“It is absolutely unnecessary to enumerate every single hazard that we have ever dealt with because we believe that through the NDRRMC and the OCD, our parent agencies to which we look up for guidance, supervision, and protection, are well aware of the roles that we play in the community,” they said in a letter dated December 18.
In 2010, the DRRM offices at the local level were created through Republic Act 10121 (RA 10121) with its mandate to reduce and manage all types of hazards, both natural and human-induced.
For its COVID-19 response, most of them have assumed the role of incident commanders in their respective areas, but unlike frontline health workers and other human resources for health, they have not been granted active hazard duty pay and special risk allowance.
However, they said they have no intention to compete with health workers in terms of the number of efforts and sacrifices they put into their respective jobs, as well as the funds that are afforded to them by the national government for they truly deserve it.
“What we are respectfully requesting in the short term is for the national government, through the intercession of the NDRRMC and the OCD, to provide us with similar compensatory benefits since we are likewise exposed to risks and hazards of COVID-19, at the expense of the safety of ourselves and our respective families,” the MDRRMOs said.
They also expressed their support for the establishment of the Department of Disaster Resilience or enactment of another law mandating the grant of regular hazard pay to all DRMM officers, workers, community disaster volunteers, and other non-health front-liners nationwide.
“We fervently hope and pray that the demoralizing effect of our predicament will not seriously diminish the quality of the performance of our sworn duty to our country and constituents. We, therefore, believe that it is only your immediate favorable action on this matter that will surely boost our morals especially this holiday season,” the group said.