MANILA—Health-care workers on Friday called on the government to prioritize payments of delayed benefits instead of building a memorial wall depicting them as modern-day heroes.
"Pinakamagandang gesture po ibigay po 'yung nararapat na benepisyo po ng ating mga health-care worker dahil 'yun po talaga ang magpapatunay na kami po ay talagang pinapahalagahan," Dr. Maricar Limpin, president of Philippine College of Physicians, told Teleradyo.
(The best gesture is to give the appropriate benefits to our health-care workers because that will truly show we are being valued.)
Scores of medical frontliners have staged protests and threatened to go on mass resignation as many have yet to receive pandemic benefits promised by the government.
The government will spend P2 million to P5 million to construct the memorial wall at the Libingan ng mga Bayani to honor health workers who have died while working on the front lines.
"Maliit lang po 'yun. Pero that memorial will always symbolize 'yung heroism... the expense na ibibigay natin po doon, that's priceless," National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. had said.
(That's a small amount. But that memorial will always symbolize their heroism... the expense for it is priceless.)
Limpin urged the government to keep its promise.
"Sinasabi namin na hindi kami nagde-demand ng malaki. In fact, sila naman po ang nagbigay niyan eh. 'Pag nagsalita ho sana sila eh tuparin ho 'yung salita nila," she said.
(We are not demanding a big amount. In fact, they're the ones who [promised] to give that [amount]. When they say something, they should fulfill it.)
The government had said health workers would be entitled to meal, accommodation and transportation allowance, special risk allowance and active duty hazard pay.
For SRA, public and private health-care workers who are in direct contact with COVID-19 patients are eligible to receive it while only medical personnel in the public sector are qualified to receive the hazard pay.
While the Alliance of Health Workers also welcomed the construction of memorial wall, its president said the funding could be used for the payment of their unpaid benefits.
"Dapat tuunan ng pansin 'yung health and safety at protection and welfare ng mga health workers habang buhay pa ang mga health workers," AHW president Robert Mendoza also told Teleradyo.
(They should pay attention to the health and safety and protection and welfare of health workers while they are alive.)
The Philippines passed the 2 million mark in coronavirus cases on Wednesday, a fifth of those recorded in the past month alone.
Medical staff are overwhelmed and 103 have died during the pandemic, among some 33,500 coronavirus fatalities overall.
—With a report from Reuters