By Rey E. Requejo | Manila Standard
Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Monday called on the government to promptly address the brewing unrest among healthcare workers by immediately releasing not only their Special Risk Allowances but all pending benefits due them.
Marcos made the call after several HCW groups threatened to conduct mass resignations and stage mass protests over the chronic delays in the issuance of their benefits such as SRA, Active Hazard Duty Pay (AHDP), and Meals, Accommodation and Transport (MAT).
“Apart from the SRA provided by the Bayanihan Act, our healthcare workers must be paid immediately in full, including the hazard pay and Meals, Accommodation and Transport (MAT) benefits,” Marcos said
The Alliance of Health Workers, a militant health workers group, earlier announced that they would conduct mass protests if the government fails to release their benefits by Sept. 1.
Marcos also encouraged lawmakers to hasten the amendment of a provision in the Bayanihan Act that mandates SRAs and AHDPs are exclusive to HCWs directly taking care of COVID-19 patients.
“In SRA and AHDP, it should be all-inclusive. So we call on our legislators to expedite the amendment to the provision of the law that only states exclusivity for healthcare workers who directly care for COVID-19 patients,” Marcos said.
All frontline HCWs face the same risks in the workplace and all deserve to be treated fairly since they have the crucial task of taking care of the sick in this time of the pandemic, he said.
The former senator called on the Department of Health to spearhead efforts to improve the welfare of HCWs.
“Everyone in the healthcare workforce – from doctors, nurses, hospitals staff to janitorial services and contact tracers – are equally at risk posed by COVID-19,” he said.
“We just have to take care of the sick at all times, like today. And the DOH should take the lead in promoting the welfare of healthcare workers,” Marcos added.
The DOH said that it has earmarked P311 million to pay for the SRAs of 20,000 HCWs, but healthcare group Filipino Nurses United says it is not enough considering there are currently 1.8 million healthcare workers in the country.
Meanwhile, AHW is also appealing for a “liberal interpretation of the law” to enable all HCWs to receive the SRAs and AHDPs.