Senator Richard J. Gordon on Saturday August 21 said that President Duterte’s order to the Department of Health (DOH) and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to process and release their paybacks in 10 days is a significant development to the ongoing probe of the Blue Ribbon Committee on the issue.
“We welcome the President’s order and we are glad that finally, our hardworking healthcare workers will get their additional pay and benefits that have been long overdue,” he said.
As committee chairman Gordon initiated motu propio the investigation after the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged the incompetence of DOH in the handling of P67 billion in its COVID-19 response program, particularly on the delayed provision of healthcare workers’ benefits.
Duterte announced the directive during his pre-recorded public address aired Saturday morning, where he ordered Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to use all money available in the agency to pay the healthcare workers, both in public and private health institutions, as well as the volunteers.
The President’s order came three days following the Blue Ribbon’s investigation that heard the health workers’ plights during the pandemic.
“We have been fighting for our healthcare workers’ welfare for so long as we recognize their role as very important to public health especially during the health crisis that we are currently dealing with. This is a very significant development to our investigation and we will not stop until the other issues concerning our health workers are resolved,” Gordon stated.
On August 18, the Blue Ribbon, chaired by Gordon, started its investigation on the delayed provision of the healthcare workers’ benefits, such as the active hazard duty pay (AHDP) and special risk allowance (SRA).
The probe was also triggered by several complaints from the health workers and the threaten of a mass resignation of a big number of nurses.
“By providing our nurses with just salaries and benefits, we are not just giving them justice, but our people in need of better health care, as well,” Gordon pointed out.