Health workers cry foul over delay of COVID allowances

Nico Bagsic, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 06 2022 04:28 PM

Various health worker groups staged a rally outside the DOH headquarters along Rizal Avenue in Manila on Sept. 6, 2022, to voice their complaints over the department's alleged lack of urgency in releasing their COVID-19 allowances. Nico Bagsic, ABS-CBN News
Various health worker groups staged a rally outside the DOH headquarters along Rizal Avenue in Manila on Sept. 6, 2022, to voice their complaints over the department's alleged lack of urgency in releasing their COVID-19 allowances. Nico Bagsic, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Some health worker groups on Tuesday protested outside the Department of Health's (DOH) headquarters along Rizal Avenue in Manila over what they described as the "dire" state of the country's healthcare system.

The groups, comprised of employees' unions from private and public hospitals in Metro Manila, held a picket near the DOH main office's gates to denounce the department's alleged lack of urgency in releasing their COVID-19 benefits such as the One COVID Allowance (OCA) and Health Emergency Allowance (HEA).

They slammed the DOH and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for seemingly pointing at each other for the release of health workers’ benefits.

For them, the alleged inefficiency of the two agencies worsen the health workers’ frustration following President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.’s remarks last Sept. 1 that the government could not do much about the lack of benefits for nurses, doctors and other healthcare workers due to lack of funding.

“Mula pa po nung “Bayanihan” [to Heal as One Act], yung mga pinapangako pa pong mga batas at benepisyo ng gobyerno para sa amin ay hanggang ngayon tuloy-tuloy pa din po yung kapalpakan ng DOH at ng DBM. Nagtuturuan po sila kung sino ang mananagot. May naibigay man ang DOH, pang isang buwan pa lang po at karamihan wala pa natatanggap. 'Yong Health Emergency Allowance na binabanggit ng DOH, wala pa din pong pondo 'yun hanggang ngayon,” said Jao Clumia, spokesperson of Private Hospital Workers Alliance of the Philippines (PHWAP).

Aside from urging the DOH to release their long-delayed COVID allowances and benefits, the groups also demanded for an increase the pay of Salary Grade 1 employees to P33,671 per month .

This, they said, is because families need at least P1,107 a day to meet their basic needs as prices of commodities continue to rise.

The health workers also called for job security, regularization, additional hires as the Philippines’ healthcare system is being supposedly stretched thin due to anomalies, negligence and deficiency caused by the pandemic.

DBM REACTS

In a statement, the DBM said that it met with DOH last Sept. 1 to look for ways to fast track the OCA and HEA of the country's health workers.

"DOH committed to submit to DBM within today, September 6, the revised figures of the additional funding requirements to cover outstanding OCA/HEA. We will update you once the submission has been done," the department said.

FROM THE ARCHIVE

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