By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — In honor of National Physicians’ Day, Senator and Chair of
the Senate Committee on Health Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go
expressed his support to medical workers by co-sponsoring a resolution
that recognizes the sacrifices and commends the immeasurable
contributions of all Filipino doctors amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a manifestation placed into the record during the Senate Session on
Monday, September 27, Go conveyed his appreciation for their continued
dedication and commitment to serve despite the risks posed by the
coronavirus which has resulted in a considerable loss of human life
around the world.
“As we battle this pandemic, we see every day the heroic contributions
of our healthcare workers including our doctors … Our medical
frontliners have faced the challenge of providing care for patients
with COVID-19, risking their own lives to save the lives of others,”
“Almost two years na po silang nakikipaglaban sa pandemyang ito. Alam
kong pagod at hirap na sila kaya hindi tayo dapat magkulang sa
suporta. Sa katunayan, nai-report na nga na ilan sa mga ospital dito
sa Metro Manila ay umaabot na sa full or critical capacity, tulad ng
St. Luke’s Medical Center… nahahawa at nagkakasakit na rin ang
karamihan sa mga healthcare workers,” he continued.
To ensure they are properly compensated, Go vowed to push for the
immediate passage into law of Senate Bill No. 2398, also known as the
Allowances and Benefits for Healthcare Workers Act of 2021.
His proposed bill provides all HCWs who are engaged in health and
health-related work in health facilities a fixed monthly COVID-19
special risk allowance, in addition to the hazard pay granted under
the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers, during the ongoing State of
Public Health Emergency.
It also gives all public health workers a monthly Active Hazard Duty
Pay on top of the hazard pay granted under the law during the same
period. Moreover, all medical expenses for any work-related injury or
illness due to COVID-19 exposure will be covered by the Philippine
Health Insurance Corporation.
Healthcare workers will include all medical, allied health
professional, administrative and support personnel, employed
regardless of their employment status.
“Isa ito sa pagpapakita ng pasasalamat ng gobyerno at ng buong bansa
para sa napakalaking sakripisyo ng ating mga doktor at heathcare
workers. I thank our Chairman of the Committee on Finance, Senator
(Sonny) Angara for prioritizing this measure,” said Go, who further
pointed out the need to augment the country’s health workforce.
“Isa sa mga dapat sikapin nating itaguyod ay ang pagpapadami ng ating
healthcare workers sa bansa. Para mapagaan na rin ang pasanin ng ating
mga doktor ay kailangan natin magdagdag ng mga doktor lalo na sa mga
probinsya. Kaya po ipinasa natin ang Doktor Para sa Bayan Law sa
pangunguna ng sponsor, Senator Joel Villanueva, at principal author,
Senate President Sotto,” he explained.
The law, which Go also co-authored and co-sponsored in the Senate,
aims to provide access to free medical education by establishing a
Medical Scholarship and Return Service Program for Filipino students
so they can pursue medical courses in State Universities and Colleges
or Private Higher Education Institutions in regions where there are no
SUCs offering a medical course. Republic Act 11509 was signed into law
by President Rodrigo Duterte on December 23, 2020.
“This will pave way for us to substantially increase the number of our
doctors in the country. I urge the concerned agencies to ensure the
proper and immediate implementation of the law … Our physicians and
healthcare workers are the most essential aspect of the response, and
the country is forever honored for their dedication, professionalism
and commitment,” he ended.
To further strengthen the health workforce, Go also filed SBN 1451 in
April 2020 which seeks to establish a Medical Reserve Corps composed
of individuals who have degrees in health-related fields but have yet
to obtain professional licenses.
The Medical Reserve Corps may be called upon to assist the national
government and the local government units in their functions related
to addressing the medical needs of the public in times of national
In 1978, Proclamation No. 1789 declared September 27 of every year as
Physician’s Day in honor of Filipino physicians.
The Senate Resolution honoring doctors during the 43rd National
Physicians’ Day was principally authored by Senator Angara and adopted
by the Senate in which all members were made co-sponsors.
The Resolution recognizes that the coronavirus has infected some 2.4
million Filipinos as of writing, including 25,336 HCWs of whom 105
have lost their lives in the performance of their duty.
It acknowledges the physical, emotional and mental toll of the
pandemic on HCWs who must endure long working hours while regularly
dealing with their patients’ deaths and not seeing their families and
loved ones for long periods of time.
The Resolution further honors those who have made the ultimate
sacrifice and continue to serve the nation by accepting the risks in
order to help fight the virus. It calls on the Philippine government
to recognize the Filipino physicians and other HCWs as “modern
heroes,” for attending to the sick and playing a key role in the
national vaccination program by monitoring and administering the
COVID-19 vaccines. (ai/mtvn)