Last November 24, a number of healthcare workers (HCWs) protested at the Department of Health’s (DOH) office in Manila, raising issues regarding their incomplete compensation.
According to the members of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), an ultimatum as to the release of healthcare COVID-19 benefits has been released to DOH, which deadline was set last August 31.
However, three months after the set deadline, HCWs working on DOH-retained hospitals have only received 30% of what is due to them, while the remaining 70% remains withheld by DOH.
As for some private and LGU hospitals, no COVID-19 benefits have been received by HCWs working there.
In response thereto, on November 25, DOH Sec. Francisco Duque III and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) Director, Celia Carlos, argued that RITM has released more than Php200 million for COVID-19 allowances so far – Php65.9 million for special risk, Php23 million for active hazard duty pay, and Php120 million for meals, accommodation, and transportation (MAT).
Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) HCWs disputed the aforementioned claim of Duque and Carlos. According to RITM Employee Association (RITMEA), a chapter of AHW at RITM, not all COVID-19 benefits under Bayanihan 2 have been provided, such as the MAT allowances. Therefore, they demand the release of 100% of the allowances due to them under Bayanihan Law 2.
Sen. Richard Gordon, last November 26, asked the Department of Health (DOH) to ‘pay what is due’ to HCWs. Given the risk of another COVID surge in the country, HCWs’ help will surely be needed, which the country may not adequately get if HCWs cannot even help themselves because of deprivation of their due benefits.
Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go stated the following day that President Duterte has ordered the release of funds to compensate unpaid HCWs, amounting to Php1.5 billion.
“DOH kept on spreading lies that they already released the said benefits. Stop fooling us [Health] Secretary [Francisco] Duque [III]. Where did the fund go? The fact that we are still here on the street fighting for what is supposedly ours,” quipped Cristy Donguines, president of Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center Employees Union-AHW.
“We challenge Secretary Duque and its officials to provide us [with a] list of all health workers who have already been granted these benefits,” Donguines added.
AHW members continually insist on the release of special risk allowance (SRA) to all health workers; complete budget for the meals, accommodation, and transportation (MAT) benefits from the prior and current years; as well as the active-duty hazard pay for the first half of 2021.
LAYOUT BY: Casey R. Aguilos
PHOTO SOURCE(S): The Enterprise