During a public hearing conducted by the Health Subcommittee on the Magna Carta of Barangay Health Workers, and joint with the Committees on Local Government, Ways and Means, and Finance, Senator Bong Go reiterated the importance of prioritizing and elevating the status of Barangay Health Workers (BHWs).
Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health, stressed the critical need to harmonize benefits for barangay personnel to align with the principles of the Local Government Code. The code delegates the provision of essential services, including health and social welfare, to local government units and, by extension, to the barangay level.
The legislator also underlined the vital role of BHWs in driving the primary health care approach towards health empowerment.
“Naiintindihan ko po ang inyong trabaho. Sa kakaikot ko sa buong Pilipinas, sa kaka-inaugurate namin ng mga Super Health Centers (SHCs), groundbreaking ng SHCs, nandiyan talaga ‘yung mga BHW. Talagang kayo po ang nagsasakripisyo,” the lawmaker noted.
The senator went on to acknowledge the BHWs’ sacrifices, especially during the pandemic, and underscored their continued service to both the elderly and youth in the community.
“Makikita ninyo sa lahat, sa buong Pilipinas, na willing po sila magtrabaho. Tulungan po natin sila.”
“Salamat po sa inyong sakripisyo. Maging matanda, o maging bata, kita ninyo, nagtatrabaho pa rin sila. Dapat po’y bigyan sila ng kompensasyon. Makikita ninyo sa lahat, sa buong Pilipinas, na willing po sila magtrabaho. Tulungan po natin sila,” he added.
Go also highlighted the BHWs’ indispensable role in providing health services in remote areas where doctors are either scarce or unavailable.
“Sila po ang tumutulong sa paggamot ng ating mga kababayan, lalung lalo na sa mga komunidad na walang doctor.”
“Ang ating mga barangay health workers ang nagsisilbing frontliners lalung-lalo na po sa malalayong lugar. Sila po ang nag-aasikaso. Sila po ang tumutulong sa paggamot ng ating mga kababayan, lalung lalo na sa mga komunidad na walang doktor,” he explained.
To recognize this, Go filed Senate Bill No. 427, also known as the Barangay Health Workers Compensation Act, which if enacted, will offer a monthly honorarium of P3,000 for BHWs. Once passed, the bill would ensure that BHWs will be entitled to allowances, benefits, privileges, security of tenure, Christmas bonus, annual training and skills upgrading, and civil service eligibility.
The proposed legislation will also entitle BHWs to the Government Service Insurance System, Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and Pag-IBIG Fund benefits.
It further reinforces the benefits and privileges under Republic Act 7883, or “The Barangay Health Workers’ Benefits and Incentives Act of 1995,” which includes free legal services and preferential access to loans.
He also pointed out the necessity for continuous improvements in compensation for health workers.
“It is an indisputable fact that many have been working long hours, often without adequate protection and compensation. Hence, there is still more to be done to ensure that our health workers are properly compensated and protected,” Go said.
He urged relevant government departments, particularly the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), to ensure that the rights and benefits of BHWs are protected and fulfilled, especially after the lifting of the state of public health emergency due to COVID-19.
“Nauna na diyan ipinasa ang Republic Act No. 11712 na nagbibigay ng Health Emergency Allowance sa ating frontliners kabilang na ang BHWs, tinanong ko nga kanina, meron pong mga BHW na kasamang nabigyan ng HEA o Health Emergency Allowance,” Go pointed out.
“Ngayong idineklara na ang lifting ng state of public health emergency due to COVID-19, marapat lang na siguruhin po ng DOH at DBM na lahat dapat ng natanggap nila noong existing pa ang public health emergency ay dapat pong maibigay what is due to them,” he added.
Concluding his manifestation, Go highlighted the need for continued engagement in measures and initiatives to bolster the Philippine healthcare system.
He expressed optimism that, with the help of his colleagues in the Senate, there could be advancements towards improving the working conditions and benefits for BHWs.
“Salamat po, Senator JV (Ejercito), Senator (Raffy) Tulfo, alam ko pong ipaglalaban ninyo rin ang ating mga barangay health workers. Maraming salamat rin Congresswoman Natasha Co ng BHW Partylist,” Go said.
In addition to this measure, he filed SBN 197 or the Magna Carta for Barangays, proposing that barangay officials, including the Punong Barangay, members of the Sangguniang Barangay, the Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson, the barangay secretary, and the barangay treasurer, are given the same treatment as regular government employees.
If enacted, this will enable barangay officials to receive salaries, benefits, allowances (such as hazard pay, representation and transportation allowance),13th month pay, and other perks that regular government employees receive.
Under the proposed measure, the Sangguniang Barangay will also have the power to determine the appropriate number of permanent barangay tanods during their administration. The appointed tanods will also be entitled to honoraria, allowances, and other benefits.