MANILA – A House of Representatives panel on Monday pushed for a 20-percent discount for barangay health workers (BHWs) to provide them proper compensation during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
The House Ways and Means Committee approved the unnumbered substitute bill to several measures proposing for a Magna Carta for Barangay Health Workers.
The panel introduced an amendment granting a 20 percent discount on all items enumerated under the Expanded Senior Citizens Act of 2010.
The items that BHWs will be able to get discounts to under the proposal include health expenses, public transport fares, hotels and restaurants, theaters and cinemas, and burial and death care expenses.
The original proposal was to grant a 10 percent discount and a value-added tax (VAT) exemption to BHWs, only for their medical needs.
In his remarks to the committee during the meeting, Albay Rep. Joey Salceda said the added provision “honors the social obligation that we owe BHWs, most of whom were not compensated for the risks they took during the pandemic, and who were not included in the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.”
Salceda, who chairs the panel, said that Administrative Order No. 36, which implemented the special risk allowance to health care workers, were limited to BHWs assigned to hospitals, laboratories, or medical and quarantine facilities.
“It’s not like the BHWs were not at risk when they were just doing contact tracing work or serving those who were quarantined at home. That was not our intention in Congress, and we have to correct it somehow,” Salceda said.
He said the BHWs are the most important component for the planned granular lockdown system that will be implemented only in areas with an alarming rise in Covid-19 cases.
“Without BHWs, this approach will not work. The risks they take are immense. By definition, they are almost always low-income. They deserve a bit of compensation,” he said. (PNA)