Gordon clears path for continuing benefits for healthcare workers

Gordon clears path for continuing benefits for healthcare workers

By Ernie Reyes

MANILA — Senator Richard J. Gordon has cleared the path allowing
public and private healthcare workers to continue enjoying their
benefits due them as they risk their lives and safety taking care of
those who are afflicted with new coronavirus disease.

As the Senate adjourned its session last Sept. 29, Gordon co-sponsored
Senate Bill (SB) 2421 for plenary debate in response to the healthcare
workers’ clamour to allow them benefits.

“The Senate does act fast, the Senate does react,” he said, mindful
that healthcare workers assigned either to COVID or non-COVID-19
facilities have always been exposed to the new coronavirus disease
during this protracted pandemic.

According to him, he fought for the inclusion of an allotment for SRA
for the healthcare workers in the proposed PhP5-trillion national
budget for 2022 when he initiated a legislative investigation on
government’s spending on COVID-19 pandemic.

“There are really a lot of things that happened from the Blue Ribbon
Committee hearing for that matter. Any committee in the Senate will
come out with positive engagement in so far as addressing the problems
of the frontliners,” he added.

Gordon, who chairs the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee, has repeatedly
lamented the alleged misuse of the government COVID-19 funds where
healthcare workers’ benefits, such as active hazard duty pay (AHDP)
and SRA, were delayed.

“I precisely said when I started the hearing that we will tackle first
the matter of the SRA of the nurses and the people who were left
behind particularly healthcare workers. This is now the result of it,”
he said in his sponsorship speech.

He said he was able to secure the assurances of the Department of
Health (DOH) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) that
they will fund the benefits of healthcare workers, with retroactive
application from July 2021.

“Habang isinusulong ang benepisyo ng mga healthcare workers sa ating
panukalang batas, huwag nating kaligtaan ang benepisyo ng ating mga
health workers na hanggang ngayon ay hindi pa rin nakakatanggap,” he
said.

He also asked DOH and DBM to aggressively look for funds needed for
the continuing benefits of healthcare workers, including those
barangays healthcare workers and other laboratory technicians,
encoders, among many others.

Under the consolidated measure, health workers at low risk of
contracting COVID-19 shall be provided with PhP3,000 extra allowance
per month; PhP6,000 for those at medium risk; while the frontliners
who are at high risk shall receive PhP9,000.

These benefits, he added, shall be on top of other benefits mandated
under Republic Act (RA) 7305, also known as the Magna Carta of Public
Health Workers, such as subsistence, hazard, and housing allowance,
among others.

Gordon has been leading the Senate investigation into the alleged
anomalous government procurement of medical supplies and equipment
with favored suppliers, notably with Pharmally Pharmaceutical
Corporation.

Based on 2015 official figures, there are about 488,800 healthcare
professionals in the country. In 2020 alone, about five percent of
the total COVID-19 cases in the country are healthcare workers, 38 of
whom have died due to the virus. (ai/mtvn)

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