Senatorial aspirant Governor Francis ‘’Chiz’’ Escudero of Sorsogon on Friday, Nov. 26 asked the Department of Health (DOH) to shed light on fresh claims by medical frontliners that many of them have yet to receive their long-delayed COVID-19 benefits due them under the law.
Since last year health workers, who have rendered services when the pandemic broke out, have been complaining of not receiving their allowances despite availability of funds and an order by President Duterte to the DOH last August to pay the benefits and allowances of the medical frontliners.
However, a protest by the Alliance of Health Workers (AWH), which includes frontliners working in government hospitals, the other day brought to light again the issue of unpaid allowances.
“Kailan kaya mababayaran ng DOH ang mga allowances ng health workers? (When will DOH pay the allowances of health workers?). Nuong isang taon, ito ang hinaing nila; matatapos na ang taong kasalukuyan, ganito pa rin ang hinaing nila (This was their complaint last. Year. Now, the same complaints crop up),” Escudero said.
“Once and for all, tapusin na dapat ng DOH ang pagkakautang nito sa mga frontliners at bayaran sila ng wasto at sakto (.the DOH should pay the frontliers, correctly and fast)… Mas maganda rin na ilatag ng DOH kung magkano na talaga ang naibayad at magkano ang dapat pang bayaran in the spirit of transparency (DOH should show how much it had paid and how much more should it pay),” the former senator added.
Cristy Donguines, president of Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center Employees Union-AHW, claimed that healthworkers in DOH-retained hospitals only received 30% of their meal, accommodation and transportation allowances from September to December 2020, while the “remaining 70% were withheld by the DOH.”
Frontliners in some private and LGU hospitals are also in a similar situation, Donguines claimed despite an appeal made last August.
Under Republic Act No. 11494, or the Bayanihan 2 law, P13.5 billion was appropriated for the accommodation, free meals, transportation and risk allowances of public and private hospital workers.
Bayanihan 2 also included compensation for frontliners who contract COVID-19 while performing their duties, from P15,000 for mild cases, P100,000 for severe cases, and P1,000,000 in case of death for the family of the health worker.
“Pasayahin naman natin ang Pasko ng ating mga frontliners bilang pagtanaw ng utang loob sa kanilang mga sakripisyo noon at sa darating pang panahon (Let the DOH make this coming Christmas merry as a way of honoring their sacrifices in the past and in the future),” Escudero said.
“Hindi naman pwedeng puro papogi na lang ang DOH sa harap ng TV at kay PRRD (DOH should not make their actions for show in front of TV sets and of President Duterte). Sabayan din sana ng DOH ito na tamang serbisyo at pagtugon sa mga pangagailangan ng ating mga health workers na dapat at sapat (DOH should undertake the right. Services and care for the needs of our health workers),” he added.