AHW stages a concerted action (Photo courtesy by Manila Bulletin)
We saw this week the deep frustration and anger of health workers, those who have been on the frontline during the coronavirus pandemic after the Department of Health presented its “singular allowance” proposal on the COVID-19 benefits for them during a public hearing of the joint Senate Committees on Finance and Ways and Means.
Association of Health Workers National President Robert Mendoza articulated their bitterness and pique when he said: “We oppose the DOH’s ‘singular allowance’ proposal for the health workers’ COVID-19 benefits because it would mean the removal of our special risk allowance, active hazard duty pay and meal, accommodation, and transportation benefits.
“This scheme is indeed divisive and discriminating.”
His point, which should be well taken, is that the DOH’s proposal provides only one type of benefit for health workers.
“And it will be given in different categories, different amounts, and worse not all health workers will be given the said benefits,” he wailed in his understandable fury.
AHW also criticized the DOH for its proposal to categorize the provision of COVID-19 related benefits for health workers into low risk, medium risk, and high-risk categories of exposure.
Health workers who are classified as having low-risk COVID-19 exposure will receive P3K; medium risk P6K; and P9K for those who have a high-risk exposure.
He explained, and we must listen carefully, not just brush off the complaint: “The DOH’s proposal to categorize the risk exposure of the health workers in hospitals and health facilities is completely unacceptable because the virulent virus can infect anyone.
“Our data showed many health workers assigned in non-COVID areas are getting infected due to lack of protection. So everyone in the vicinity of the hospital and health facility is considered high risk to COVID-19.
“Thus, all health workers must receive equal COVID-19 benefits.”
Apart from that, the DOH targets only P526,727 health workers out of the 1.8 million health workers nationwide to receive the said allowance.
“We, health workers, are disgusted with the DOH led by Secretary (Francisco) Duque because instead of implementing its mandate to provide safety, protection, and welfare to the health workers and likewise show compassion, concern, and support in this time of crisis, he did otherwise. This adds up to the many failures and offenses that he did to the health workers. “
He said the DOH divided, deprived, and lowered our morale and dignity.
“The proposal laid out at the Senate Hearing was a manifestation of Secretary Duque’s indifference to health workers safety, protection and welfare, and inhumane leadership,” Mendoza said
However, AHW reiterated its call and demands to:
- Provide fixed Special Risk Allowance of P5,000 per month (not prorated) to all public and private health workers regardless of employment status.
- Provide fixed Active Hazard Duty Pay of P3,000 per month (not prorated) to all public and private health workers regardless of employment status. AHDP shall be in addition to hazard pay benefit under the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers.
- Provide Life insurance, meals, accommodation and transportation allowance provided as cash to all public and private health workers amounting to P38,000.00 per month. release the MAT benefits from December 20, 2020-June 2021.
- Provide the COVID-19 Compensation: P15,000.00 for mild and moderate cases, P100K for severe cases and P1M for death compensation. Compensation for mild, moderate and severe cases shall be provided every COVID-19 infection the health worker is diagnosed of.
- Ensure the continued provision of these benefits until the declaration of state of national public health emergency or pandemic remains in full force. And make the provision of benefits retroactive from July 1, 2021.
In recognition of the invaluable role of the health workers, the Alliance of Health Workers welcomes the Senate Bill No 2371 or COVID-19 Benefits for Health Workers Act of 2021 introduced by Senators Richard Gordon and Juan Edgardo Angara, and Senate Bill 2398 or Allowances and Benefits for Healthcare Workers Act of 2021 introduced by Senator Christopher Lawrence Go.
The health workers have been up to the battle against the virus. The least that should be done is to reward them appositely. And posthaste.