Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday, June 13, called on the government to give health workers what they deserve as some nurses are demanding the release of the hazard pay the Department of Health (DOH) promised since the coronavirus outbreak last year.
Robredo, an opposition leader, highlighted the need for incentives as health workers are demanded to risk their lives while caring for patients with COVID-19.
“Una, mahalaga na magbigay ng insentibo. Pero kailangan din nating tingnan papaano natin tinireat ang health workers since last year (First, it’s important to give incentives. But we also need to think about how we are treating our health workers since last year),” she said during her weekly radio show.
When you are inviting nurses and doctors to heed the government’s call for more health workers in hospitals, it’s important for them to see that they are going to be compensated well.
Robredo defended the health workers against Health Secretary Francisco Duque III’s earlier statement that they are refusing to take care of patients because they are scared of the pandemic and they are seeking greener pastures abroad.
“Tayong mga nurse, mga doktor, alam naman natin na ang trabaho natin e mangalaga ng pasyente. Kung iilag tayo sa ganoong trabaho, bakit tayo nagpaka-nurse, nagpaka-doktor kung sa bandang huli pala ay manlalambot tayo at ‘di natin kakayanin? ‘Di ba? (We, the nurses and the doctors, know that our main job is to take care of patients. If we are going to refuse this kind of job, then why did we take this profession if we will not respond to our country’s needs?),” he said.
The vice president said it isn’t about the health workers trying to walk away from the responsibilities, adding that the country has lost many health workers to COVID-19.
“Tingin ko hindi problema iyong tumatakas ba sila sa sinumpaang trabaho. Kasi since last year nga hirap na hirap sila pero iyong sa kanila parang hinihingi lang nila ibigay yung what they deserve. Kasi grabe na din ang kanilang sakripisyo (I think the problem is not that they are escaping from their profession. Because since last year, they have been experiencing a hard time and for them, they are just asking for what they deserve. Because they make great sacrifices),” she added.
She compared the situation with that of the United States, which during the outbreak last year, offered huge monetary incentives to their health workers.
Robredo said it will be harder for the Philippine government to attract health workers because it failed to address their needs since last year.
Health workers’ groups have protested the lack of testing, personal protective equipment (PPE), and hazard pay, which led the Office of the Vice President (OVP) to provide them free shuttle services, locally-made PPEs, and hot meals.
Robredo explained she was a witness to the country’s health workers’ ability to sacrifice their own conveniences, citing the thousands of medical workers that volunteer their time for her free medical teleconsultation project, the Bayanihan E-Konsulta.
“A lot are volunteering and we don’t pay them. They are not trying to escape from their work when they are willing to do volunteer work because they really want to help,” Robredo said in Filipino.
The Bayanihan E-Konsulta provides medical consultation services to COVID-19 and non-COVID patients in the National Capital Region Plus (NCR Plus).