Manila Standard : ‘Non-medical staff should get SRA too’

17 September 2021

By Manila Standard

Former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong’ Marcos Jr. appealed to the national government and lawmakers to prioritize the inclusion of non-medical frontline staff serving in hospitals and quarantine facilities among those eligible to receive Special Risk Allowance (SRA), Hazard Pay, and other benefits.

“When it comes to benefits like SRA and Hazard Pay, it should include all. This has always been my advocacy because everyone working in hospitals and quarantine facilities are exposed to the same risks,” Marcos said.

He lamented the delays in releasing the benefits to non-medical and outsourced staff considered essential frontline workers.

“Guards, janitors, non-medical staff in laboratories and other support staff are considered frontline workers but how come they are also experiencing delays in their benefits?” Marcos added.

The former senator was also saddened that healthcare workers had to resort to extreme measures just for their plight to be noticed by authorities.

“Do our frontliners need to make a ruckus just to be noticed by the government? It shouldn’t be like this. Agencies such as DoH should ensure that their welfare is being looked after,” Marcos said.

“The government should prioritize the bills that will expand the coverage of SRAs, hazard pays, and other benefits for healthcare workers. They are deemed heroes, that’s why we should show our appreciation for their sacrifices by giving them the benefits they rightfully deserve,” he said.

Two separate bills from the Senate and the House of Representatives seeking to give SRA to all public and private health workers during the COVID-19 pandemic were filed last week.

Marcos also noted the growing number of hospitals experiencing staffing problems as more health workers either get sick with COVID-19 or resign due to the tremendous workload.

On Monday, Dr. Jonas Del Rosario from the UP-PGH said that 11 volunteer doctors decided not to renew their contracts with the institution. He added that their manpower is overstretched and that they now resort to “task sharing” among departments to sustain the operation of their COVID-19 wards.

A few weeks ago, militant health workers’ groups staged mass protests and walkouts in private and government-run institutions to vent their anger over unreleased benefits.

As a result, the DoH said last week that up to 100,000 healthcare workers will now be able to receive their delayed SRAs and other benefits after the DBM issued two allotment orders to cover its release.