Health workers urged the government on Thursday, Nov. 24, to hasten the release of their unpaid Covid-19 benefits.
Medical workers, who are members of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), staged a protest action on Thursday at the Department of Health (DOH) Central Office in Sta. Cruz, Manila to “strongly convey their demand for swift release of their one Covid-19 allowance and health emergency allowance and salary increase.”
“Things are happening over and over again. It is always difficult for us to get what is due for us. We still need to go [to] the street and air our grievances,” said AHW National President Robert Mendoza in a statement.
“With Marcos, Jr. administration, there is no significant and remarkable changes in the deplorable condition of the health workers and the people,” he added.
Health workers expressed their frustration because “until now our much needed Health Emergency Allowance (HEA) for July-December 2021 and July-November 2022 is not yet released,” said Philippine Heart Center Employees Association-AHW President Salome Ejes.
“Worst, One COVID Allowances (OCA) of private and LGU health workers covering the period of January-June 2022 is not yet fully implemented. How long will we wait for the promised benefits?,” she added.
Several health workers “have suffered more than enough” and many of them “are extremely dismayed,” said Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center Employees Union-AHW President Cristy Donguines.
“Many are resigning and prefer to work abroad because they are well compensated. While, we health workers who chose to stay, are still neglected and abandoned by this government,” said Donguines.
“We don’t deserve to beg for these benefits as these were already provided by law in due recognition of our historical role in battling this pandemic,” she added.
Last Nov. 15, DOH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario Vergeire said that they are targeting to distribute the health workers’ benefits before Christmas.
Vergeire said that the DOH already requested from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) an additional P27 billion for the provision of HEA for medical workers.
In a statement on Thursday, Nov. 24, the DOH said it is “continuously disbursing the benefits and allowances of health care workers in both the public and private sector.”
“The recent releases of the Department of Budget and Management) were already distributed to the Centers for Health Development and based on our reports, the public sector has already disbursed around 90 percent of the allowances to hospitals and facilities, while around 40 percent in the private health facilities,” the DOH said.
“To avoid delays in the release of Health Emergency Allowances, public and private hospitals and facilities need to coordinate closely with our regional offices and comply with the complete list of requirements guided by government auditing rules and processes prescribed by the Commission on Audit (COA),” it added.
Health facilities were also reminded to ensure submission of liquidation reports to prevent delays in the release of funds.
“The DOH encourages all health facilities to coordinate with their respective Centers for Health Development in submitting the required documents to ensure the timely release of HEA to eligible HCWs (healthcare workers) and non-HCWs,” the state health agency said.
Health workers are also urging the government to increase their salaries considering the “rising prices of basic commodities, oil, and fares.”
“It is about time PBBM to prioritize the increase of our salaries especially nowadays that our low salaries are no longer enough to compensate our daily expenses due to high inflation rate,” said Tondo Medical Center Employees Association-AHW President Ernesto Bulanadi.
“We demand for a P33K (P33,000) per month national minimum wage to all government employees and P1,100 per day for private workers,” added Bulanadi.