MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday said government will “do our best” to release the incentives of health workers, as some consider mass resignation over the benefits they have not yet received more than a year into the COVID-19 crisis.
Thousands of medical workers have already reportedly resigned during the pandemic, complaining of low pay and poor working conditions. Some have sought better jobs abroad.
Duterte thanked frontliners “for the sacrifice they have made since the beginning of this pandemic.”
“We are truly grateful for your selflessness in caring for the sick during these challenging times,” he said in a virtual program for the arrival of China-donated Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine shots.
“Be assured that we in government will do our best to protect and incentivize you to your hard work. We will always be by your side, ready to help in any way we can,” added the President.
The Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines (PHAPi) estimated that 40 percent of private hospital nurses resigned last year, but more followed amid new waves of infections this year. Public hospitals are facing similar challenges.
"If we want to increase bed capacity, that is easy, but the problem is the nursing component," PHAPi's president, Jose Rene de Grano, told Reuters.
A union leader recently said some health workers in private hospitals have yet to get their special risk allowances or hazard pay, despite repeated meetings with officials.
"Taliwas ito sa mga sinasabi ni [Health] Sec. Duque na ang pahayag niya sa media, matagal na raw downloaded 'yon, 'yong meals, accommodation, life insurance, saka transportation," said Jao Clunia, president of St. Luke’s Medical Center Employees Association.
"Wala nga po kami niyan kahit pisong duling," he told ANC's Headstart.
(This is different from Sec. Duque's statement to the media that the meals, accommodation, life insurance, and transportation allowance have long been downloaded. We have not received even a single peso.)
The Department of Health said it it has released P10.85 billion for the special risk allowance (SRA) of 740,958 health workers, and another P4.24 billion for the hazard pay of 864,843 frontliners.
The DOH is also facing questions on its management of COVID-19 funds. State auditors said "deficiencies" of around P67 billion led to "missed opportunities" in containing the coronavirus pandemic. The health department said the funds were accounted for.
— Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News; Reuters