Health workers stage noise barrage to seek accommodation, transport benefits

Published June 21, 2021, 5:30 PM

by Gabriela Baron

Health workers from the Philippine Orthopedic Center (POC) on Monday, June 21, staged a noise barrage to air their grievances about accommodation and transport benefits.

(Photo from AHW)

POC is among the Department of Health hospitals that was forced to return the funds in compliance to the DOH order through the Department Order No. 2020-0759 re: Guideline for the Release, Utilization, Liquidation, and Reporting of Funds to Cover Benefits of Healthcare Workers in Response to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Health Emergency.

The hospital has allotted funds amounting to over P53.4 million for meals, accommodation, and transportation benefits.

According to the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) in December 2020, POC health workers were provided only with cooked meals good for 13 days.

On the first week of January 2021, health workers received only P7,300 worth of gift certificates, the rest of the fund amounting to P35.5 was recalled by the DOH.

On June 7, the POC hospital management wrote the DOH requesting for the issuance of sub-allotment advice in the amount of P35.5 million.

The DOH replied on June 8, saying “the funds which you returned to this Department were already repurposed for COVID-19 related activities or responses such as the hiring of additional emergency human resources for health (HRH), vaccination program, and compensation benefits of health workers who contracted COVID-19.”

AHW hit DOH’s response, stressing that the fund “is intended and appropriated for health workers’ benefit.”

“Why did DOH used it for COVID-19 related activities? Is this how you treat and value us, the modern-day heroes? We will not stop our fight until the DOH returns the funds allocated to our meal, accommodation, and transportation benefits,” Sean Velchez, President of the National Orthopedic Hospital Workers Union-AHW (NOHWU-AHW), said.

Velchez said the benefit is a big help to “alleviate poverty and cope with the impact of low wages of health workers” amid the pandemic and the rising prices of commodities.”

“The approval of President Duterte to release the said benefit into cash is worthless. We, modern-day heroes, remain struggling to get the benefit we deserve. The relentless service and sacrifices we rendered as we risked our lives in battling the COVID-19 pandemic were not valued by the DOH,” he added.

“Nevertheless, we are still committed and determined to continue the fight until we finally receive our meals, accommodation, and transportation benefit. The benefit should be equally released in cash to all health workers.”