Health workers must be equipped in war vs COVID-19, senators say

Published August 27, 2021, 2:00 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Like law enforcement agencies tasked to carry out the government’s war on drugs, health care workers should also equipped and taken care of as they battle the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Senator Nancy Binay said.

(Jansen Romero/MANILA BULLETIN File Photo)

Binay made the comparison as she prodded on Friday, August 27, authorities to release the special risk allowances (SRA) and other benefits due for health care workers.

The senator hit the Department of Health (DOH) for having “no sense of urgency” on the matter, even as several medical workers are reportedly resigning from their jobs.

“It’s like the focus against the fight or equipping our frontliners is always not there. For me, ang mindset eh, [is] we are at war. If there is war against drugs, dapat focus natin war against COVID (we should also be focusing on the war against COVID-19). And ‘yong mga health workers natin, ‘yong nurses natin, sila ‘yong army natin eh (And our health workers, our nurses, they are our army in this fight),” Binay said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.

“So dapat sila ‘yong ineequip natin, sila ‘yong dapat inaalagaan natin (we should be equipping them, taking care of them), to fight this battle,” she pointed out.

Senator Grace Poe, for her part, said the DOH should not test the patience of the health workers.

“Our medical frontliners, saddled by the COVID-19 workload, must receive all benefits and pay due them under the law. ‘Wag natin silang sagarin at itulak sa kalsada para mag-protesta o mag-resign (Let’s not force them out in the streets to protest or resign),” Poe said in a statement.

She also stressed said that hospitals and health facilities “dangerous battlegrounds for all health workers, and they all deserve social benefits.” “The government must not shut its eyes to the woes of our medical frontliners and leave them groping in utter disillusionment,” Poe further said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier maintained the need for a law that would allow the DOH to expand the coverage of the SRA under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.

But senators, as well as Commission on Audit (COA) chairman Michael Aguinaldo, had said the government can liberalize the payouts to all health workers.

The DOH said on Thursday, August 26, that the special release order for the P311- million SRAs for health care workers had been downloaded to Centers of Health Development.

The fund is seen to benefit an additional 20,208 workers, the agency said.