Health workers from public hospitals in Metro Manila stormed the Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday, June 22, to call for the immediate release of their benefits.
Various health workers held a noise barrage and “die-in protest” in front of the DOH gate to ask for the unreleased fund for their meals, accommodation, and transportation benefits as stated under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.
According to the Alliance of Health Workers, the funds that were returned to DOH 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 coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
“DOH wad forced to reveal that they had utilized the funds intended for our meal, accommodation, and transportation benefits for other purposes. Clearly, DOH deceived, deprived, and confused us,” Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center Employees Union-AHW President Cristy Donguines lamented.
“We are at the frontline in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic and our health and lives and health of our families are at stake. We are working 12 hours per shift and overloaded with patients. Those benefits are token for the risk and sacrifices that we face every day but until now the DOH has not taken action regarding our welfare,” Tondo Medical Center Employees Association-AHW President Ernesto Bulanadi added.
Health workers urged DOH to “immediately” release their benefits “before the extension of Bayanihan Law 2 ends.”
The group also called on Health secretary Francisco Duque to “shape up and defend the health workers’ rights and welfare.”
“We will not stop and never get tired of fighting until we get the living wage, just benefits, rights, and welfare we deserve,” AHW said.