MANILA — Funds for the benefits of the country's health workers, including their COVID-19 booster shots, should be increased, labor leader and 2022 presidential aspirant Leody de Guzman said Monday.
“The demand of our health workers is just and true. What they need are more effective booster shots and added benefits to protect the people's first line of defense against COVID-19,” De Guzman, the standard bearer of Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM), said in a statement.
This as the national government is looking to give a third dose or booster shots to priority groups by November or December should the state regulator amend the emergency use authorization for existing jabs.
The Department of Budget and Management slashed the proposed funding for COVID-19 booster shots from P104 billion to P45 billion. The 2022 national budget is currently being deliberated in the Senate and has already passed in the Lower House.
De Guzman noted also that some health workers have yet to receive their benefits under the Bayanihan 2 such as special risk allowance (SRA), active hazard duty pay (AHDP), MAT allowance, and life insurance.
“Because of the patent mismanagement of state funds by the Duterte administration, the lives and livelihood of our medical frontliners are in peril,” the labor leader said.
The Department of Health had said that some benefits could not be released to intended health workers due to lack of documentary requirements.
De Guzman said the P19.68 billion that the Lower House approved for the DOH COVID-19 response is insufficient because it is estimated that there are at least 526,000 healthcare workers in the country, all deserving decent wages, and benefits.
“If the Senate sleeps on the sidelines, it would repeat the errors of the 2021 budget. Our medical frontliners would again be neglected. Government must support the welfare of our health workers because the health and safety of the people are dependent on them.”
De Guzman is among 97 individuals who filed their candidacy for President in the 2022 elections.
The other presidential aspirants include Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Sen. Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, former Sen. Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos, Jr., former Defense Secretary Norberto Gonzales, and former presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella.
The Commission on Elections will trim the list in the coming months to remove those found to be nuisance candidates.