'Ginawa kaming busabos': Health workers demand release of cash allowance from DOH

Angel Movido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 22 2021 05:43 PM

'Ginawa kaming busabos': Health workers demand release of cash allowance from DOH 1
Members of the Alliance of Health Workers hold a noise barrage and ‘die-in’ protest in front of the Department of Health headquarters in Manila on June 22, 2021. The group calls for the immediate release of meal, accommodation and transportation allowances of health workers and frontliners in the fight against COVID-19. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA— Health care workers from various hospitals on Tuesday held a picket outside the Department of Health (DOH) headquarters in Manila to demand the release of their allowances for food, transportation, and accommodation.

Some workers were dressed in scrub suits and personal protective equipment as they appealed for higher pay while serving in the frontlines of the pandemic.

"MAT (meal, accommodation, transportation) benefits, ibigay, ibigay!" they shouted in unison.

(Release our MAT benefits!)

Some of the placards, meanwhile, called for Health Secretary Francisco Duque III's resignation. 

"Nakakalungkot na ang dami nang nawala na health workers pero ang benepisyo hindi pa rin binibigay ng Department of Health. Sana matauhan na ang Department of Health," said Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) national president Robert Mendoza.

(It's saddening that the DOH has yet to release our benefits despite many of us succumbing to the virus. This should be a wake up call for the DOH.)

According to the health workers, they have been in constant dialogue with the DOH who vowed to release their allowances in cash. 

"Andito kami sa harap ng Department of Health upang iparinig kung bingi man si Secretary Duque, kung hindi niya naiintindihan ang sagot ng Malacañang," said Cristy Donguines, president of the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center Employees Union-Alliance of Health Workers.

(We are here so Duque would hear our calls. Did he not understand the decision of Malacañang?)

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier gave his nod to monetize free meals, accommodation, and transportation (MAT) benefits intended for health workers.

Donguines added Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega told them that hazard and special risk allowances from January to June this year are still being processed by the Department of Budget and Management.

"Anong nangyari, ginawa niyo kaming mga busabos, dahil may mga hidden agenda pala kayo, pilit niyong binawi, alam namin na may pondo 'yan, ang pagbili ng vaccine, may kanya-kanyang pondo 'yan," Donguines lamented.

(They're making us look like beggars. They have an agenda. We know there are funds.)

On Saturday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire assured the health care workers that they will get their allowances.

"Gusto ko pong i-ensure at i-assure ang ating health care workers na 'yun pong pera ay hinahanap natin at ibibigay po ito sa inyo, pera na po ang ibibigay po sa inyo. Kaunting patience lang po," the official said.

(We want to ensure and assure health care workers that the funds for their allowances, we are already looking for it and we will give it to you in cash.)