NKTI health workers stage protest on Heroes' Day

Published August 31, 2021, 8:24 AM

by Gabriela Baron

Health workers from the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) marked National Heroes’ Day by staging a protest over the Department of Health’s (DOH) failure to provide overdue benefits to medical frontliners.

(Photo from AHW)

In his National Heroes’ Day message, President Duterte called medical frontliners “new bred of heroes.”

“If we are heroes for you, why it’s been a year now we are still here on the street calling and shouting for the immediate release of our hard-earned COVID-19 benefits?” Edwin Pacheco, President of the NKTI Employees Association-Alliance of Health Workers (NKTIEA-AHW), said.

“You can’t blame us health workers in protesting because we are tired with the DOH and this government’s gross incompetence, inefficiency, and negligence in ensuring our safety, protection, and welfare,” Pacheco added.

According to NKTIEA-AHW, since December 20, there have been 51 health workers from NKTI who filed an early retirement and resigned from their post.

“We have been demanding for mass hiring of regular health workers since the pandemic started. Even without the call for mass resignation, many from our ranks have already resigned and retired early for fear of being infected with the virus and their families. More so, severe understaffing that caused over fatigue and burned-out,” Pacheco said.

“We don’t want to be portrayed as heroes who have been neglected and gambled against the deadly virus. We hold DOH Secretary Duque and [the] Duterte government accountable and liable for their criminal neglect and gross incompetence in handling COVID-19 pandemic,” Robert Mendoza, AHW national president, lamented.

In a separate statement, civil society group Council for People’s Development and Governance (CPDG) stressed that “heroic” health workers deserve more than “lip service” from the government.

“They are overworked and underpaid, even before the pandemic. Their special risk allowances and other benefits are long overdue,” Liza Maza, CPDG Spokesperson, said.

The AHW gave DOH until Aug. 31 to provide their unreleased meal, accommodation, and transportation (MAT) allowance, special risk allowance (SRA), and active hazard duty pay (AHDP).

On Aug. 21, Duterte ordered the DOH and DBM 10 days to pay the health workers’ benefits.