MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - Health workers on Monday will begin staging mass walkouts nationwide as they have yet to receive their benefits from government for battling the COVID-19 pandemic in the frontlines, a group said Sunday.
The planned walkout, which follows the different protest actions held last week at the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center, Philippine General Hospital, Tondo Medical Center and the National Center for Mental Health, will commence on National Heroes Day in 10 private hospitals, including the Chinese General Hospital in Manila, said Robert Mendoza, president of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW).
A similar activity will be done by health workers at the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine on Tuesday, Mendoza told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
Walkouts will be from 9 a.m. to 12 noon, while protests in other forms such as noise barrage and red armband-wearing will also be conducted by health workers in other parts of the country, he said.
Mendoza said health workers at the Chinese General Hospital "worry" about the release of their benefits.
"Ang sinasabi ng ating mga kasama sa Chinese General Hospital, to follow na daw ang kanilang benepisyo. Nagwo-worry sila bakit ang tagal, nasa NCR lang sila, mabilis lang dapat i-download ang pera... Friday pa sila nagaantay," he said.
(Our colleagues at the Chinese General Hospital said their benefits were to follow. They worry because they're just in the National Capital Region, so the funds should be downloaded quickly... They've been waiting since Friday.)
"Nagwo-worry sila... kaya 'yung kanilang sinasabing mass walkout sa Araw ng mga Bayani ay itutuloy talaga nila, kasama yung iba't ibang, yung 10 hospital na nasa pribado."
(They worry... so they will proceed with the mass walkout on National Heroes' Day, together 10 other private hospitals.)
"Itong mga private hospital na ito ay sampu po yan... at pinayagan naman sila ng kanilang mga management, according to them, na mag-mass walkout sila sa kanilang pribadong hospital."
(These are 10 private hospitals... And according to them, they were allowed by their management to conduct a mass walkout.)
CGH WORKERS NOT TAKING PART - UNION
The Chinese General Hospital Union clarified though that it has no orders for its members to join the health workers' mass action on Monday.
"Makaasa po kayo mananatili ang magandang relasyon ng Management at ng Unyon. Salamat po," its president Jesus Obien said.
(Rest assured good relations between management and union will remain. Thank you.)
The hospitals' employees association is not a member of the AHW, added Obien.
Sought for comment on Obien's statement, Mendoza said he does not know why workers of the Chinese General Hospital will not join the planned action anymore.
Mendoza said the AHW had direct communication with the hospital workers' union who supposedly relayed their intention to participate.
The Chinese General Hospital management, in a statement, said it received last Friday P21 million for the SRA of its workers and would distribute it "this week."
"The Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center unequivocally denies its frontliners and workers shall be taking part in a supposed mass walkout tomorrow (Monday)," it said.
"We would like to convey to the public that CGHMC management and its roster of health workers remain committed in its goals in maintaining quality service to its patients and a safe, healthy environment to its employees."
WON'T NEGLECT PATIENTS
"Bago naman ito pinagplanuhan, tiningnan namin ang aming consequences sa pag-aaksyon namin. And so far, meron namang iba pang mga pamamaraan na 'di mapapabayaan ang ating mga pasyente," Mendoza said in the TeleRadyo interview.
(Before we planned this, we looked at the consequences of our actions and we saw ways in which we won't neglect our patients.)
"Matagal na ring nauunawaan ng ating mga pasyente ang ating laban para sa health and safety ng mga health workers. Hindi lang po ito para sa pansarili naming kapakanan, kasama din sila, para mabigyan din sila ng quality care."
(Our patients also understand that this is a fight for the health and safety of health workers. It's not only for us, they are also included, so they can receive quality care.)
Health workers were dismayed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque's remarks during the Senate Blue Ribbon Committee hearing last week, Mendoza said.
Duque had said it would take 2 months' time to give them their due benefits, according to Mendoza.
"Kung hindi talaga maibigay ang mga benepisyong ito, meron pa kaming mga plano na dapat tuloy-tuloy po itong pagkilos na ito hanggang sa maibigay po," he said.
(If they can't give us these benefits, we have plans to continue these protests until they do so.)
"Hindi lang naman ito panawagan para sa benepisyo ng health workers, ito ay panawagan din na itaas ang budget pangkalusugan."
(This is not only a call for health workers' benefits, but also to raise our health sector's budget.)