Duterte urged to raise health workers' pay as he had doubled policemen's

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 30 2021 10:21 AM | Updated as of Aug 30 2021 11:39 AM

Health workers from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) led by the All U.P. Workers Union-Manila stage a noise barrage protest in front of their hospital in Manila on August 26, 2021. The group decried the non-payment of COVID-19 benefits and demanded the health department to release their special risk allowance (SRA), active hazard duty pay (AHDP), and their meals, accommodation and transportation allowance (MAT), amounting to a total of P291.6 million, according to the group. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
Health workers from the Philippine General Hospital (PGH) led by the All U.P. Workers Union-Manila stage a noise barrage protest in front of their hospital in Manila on August 26, 2021. The group decried the non-payment of COVID-19 benefits and demanded the health department to release their special risk allowance (SRA), active hazard duty pay (AHDP), and their meals, accommodation and transportation allowance (MAT), amounting to a total of P291.6 million, according to the group. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

Health workers in 10 private hospitals in Metro Manila have yet to receive their special benefits, prompting them to conduct a walkout, said Robert Mendoza, president of the Alliance of Health Workers.

"Sana, dagdagan at itaas ang sahod both public and private health workers. Kung nadoble ni Pangulong Duterte ang sahod ng mga kapulisan, sana sa panahon ng pandemya, magkaroon siya ng political will na doblehin ang sahod ng ating health workers," he told ANC's Headstart.

(I hope government will increase the salary of both public and private health workers. If President Duterte can double the salary of policemen, I hope during the pandemic, he will have the political will to double the salary of our health workers.)

"Sa bukambibig po ng ating Presidente, tinatawag tayong bayani pero hanggang doon lang po. Sa usapin ng health and safety at saka benepisyo, wala tayong nakitang pagkalinga at pangangalaga ng Presidente at Department of Health."

(The President calls us heroes. But when it comes to health, safety, and benefits, we don't receive care from the President and the Department of Health.)

The walkout of St. Luke's Medical Center Employees Union was to begin at 9 a.m., followed by the UST Hospital union at 12 noon, said Jao Clumia, president of the former group.

"One hour lang po ito, ayaw din po namin madisrupt ang (operations ng) ospital kasi buhay po ang nakataya d'yan. Ang mga pasyente, kawawa naman. Ang mga sasali po ngayon, magdu-duty po ng PM, so meron silang oras para sumali," he said.

(This will only last for an hour. We don't want to disrupt the operation of the hospital because lives are on the line. We sympathize with patients. Those who will join are from the PM shift so they have time for the protest action.)

The Filipino Nurses United and other groups will also conduct a protest in front of the DOH, said its president Maristela Abenojar.

A mass action will take place there on Wednesday, Sept. 1, according to Mendoza and Abenojar.

Health workers have been calling on government to release their benefits such as the special risk allowance, hazard pay, and meals, accommodation, and transportation allowance (MAT).

"Kung totoong may malasakit po ang Department of Health, sana noon pa pong nakaraang taon, noong sinabi ito ay dapat ibigay, binigay na nila. Bakit di nila ginawan ng paraan? Kinailangan pa ang health workers na lumabas ng kanilang ospital at magpahayag ng kanilang sitwasyon," Abenojar told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(If it's true that the DOH cares for us, they should have given us our benefits last year, when it should have been given. Why did they not do anything? Why did they wait for health workers to step out of the hospital and air their situation?)

"Ang sinseridad ng malasakit ay di po namin nakikita (We don't see their sincerity)."

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Only those who are directly exposed to COVID-19 patients are entitled to the benefit, the groups said.

A nurse can receive up to P38,000 if they complete their duty for 22 days or a month, which seldom happens as shifts are rotated, Mendoza said.

The SRA is only given when an area is placed under enhanced community quarantine or modified ECQ, he added.

"Depende pa rin sa pasok. For example, ang ating mga nurses, shinorten na ang exposure sa hospital. Three days ang pasok, the rest is day off," Mendoza said.

(It depends on your time of duty. For example, the exposure of nurses in the hospital has been shortened to 3 days, the rest are days off.)

"Malinaw naman dun sa batas na public and private. So kung merong natanggap ang grupo ni Pangulong Robert na P38,000, sa'min kahit 38 centavos wala po," Clumia added.

(It's clear in the law that both public and private health workers should benefit. If Robert's group received P38,000, we did not receive, even 38 centavos.)

St. Luke's has also stopped providing MATs to its workers as PhilHealth has yet to pay its debt, according to Clumia.

"Dapat bayaran ng PhilHealth ang aming management. 'Di nagkulang sa loob ng mahigit na isang taon ang management sa pagtulong sa'min, kahit wala kaming natatanggap na ayuda galing sa gobyerno," he said.

(PhilHealth should pay our management which did not lack in helping us in more than a year even if we don't receive assistance from government.)

"Nitong mga nakaraang buwan, pinutol ni management ang pagbigay ng MAT and shuttle namin. Ang sabi ng management namin, 'ang laki ng utang ng PhilHealth so wala na kaming pang-abono d'yan'."

(These past few months, the management stopped our MAT and shuttle service, and said it was because PhilHealth's debt has become huge and they can't afford to cover for it.)

Government should also fill up its vacant 14,058 plantilla health workers instead of hiring more contractual workers, Mendoza added.

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