'TRAIN-hit' health workers march with 'black hearts' in V-Day protest

Kevin Manalo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 14 2018 01:32 PM | Updated as of Sep 14 2018 09:30 AM

'TRAIN-hit' health workers march with 'black hearts' in V-Day protest 1
Health workers call on the Duterte administration to consider public health as a priority. Kevin Manalo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - What Valentine's Day? It's a "black hearts" day for health workers who marched to Mendiola in the city's capital Wednesday to protest the government's tax reform package.

The health workers, composed of nurses, hospital staff, midwives and medical personnel, carried black hearts, instead of red ones, which they believe is more apt for a "heartless administration."

In a short program, a train effigy "ran over" the health workers to symbolize how the TRAIN (Tax Reform for Acceleration and Inclusion) law affected their lives.

'TRAIN-hit' health workers march with 'black hearts' in V-Day protest 2
"Sinagasaan ng TRAIN law" is how health workers describe the tax reform law's effect on them. Kevin Manalo, ABS-CBN News

According to the protesters, the lower income tax was not enough to address their financial problems. For them, an increase in wages should be prioritized by President Rodrigo Duterte's administration. 

Nurse Christie Donguinez said entry level wages for nurses, both in government and private hospitals, must be standardized to at least P30,000.

'TRAIN-hit' health workers march with 'black hearts' in V-Day protest 3
Protesters tie red ribbons to their arms, symbolizing their love for their work and service to the poor. Kevin Manalo, ABS-CBN News

She also hopes the law authored by Senator Antonio Trillanes requiring registered and licensed professionals 45 additional credit units to renew their license will be repealed. 

Donguinez said the required credit units, acquired by undergoing training given by providers accredited by the Professional Regulation Commission, are too expensive for low-income nurses.

'TRAIN-hit' health workers march with 'black hearts' in V-Day protest 4
Wearing their work uniforms,nurses from different hospitals appeal for a raise in their salaries so they could make a decent living. Kevin Manalo, ABS-CBN News

Robert Mendoza, president of the Alliance of Health Workers, said the Duterte administration is giving scant attention to the health sector, citing low income and low budget among other things.

The "black hearts" protest finished before noontime. The health workers said they will go back to their hospitals and clinics with a firmer resolve to fight for their rights.