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GIVE HEALTH WORKERS MORE BENEFITS – VILLANUEVA

Senator Joel Villanueva pushed the passage of a bill that would institutionalize additional benefits for health workers, saying action should speak louder than words in giving honor to those who put their lives on the line in the battle against COVID-19.

“We can shower our health care workers with words of admiration, praises and all kinds of love languages,” said Villanueva in his sponsorship speech. “I am sure that they will appreciate it. But action speaks louder than words.”

“From the very beginning when we have yet to know the gravity of the COVID-19 pandemic, when we thought the lockdown would end after two weeks, our health care workers answered the call of duty and continue to do so,” the veteran legislator continued.

“Tapatan natin ng mga konkretong aksyon at benepisyo ang sakripisyo ng ating mga health care worker.”

“Sa puntong ito, tapatan natin ng mga konkretong aksyon at benepisyo ang sakripisyo ng ating mga health care worker na binibigay ang sarili nila nang buong-buo para labanan ang COVID-19,” the seasoned lawmaker added.

Citing data from the Department of Health, the senator said the Philippines currently has 25,411 medical and non-medical frontline workers who have contracted COVID-19.

“At least 366 of these are active cases,” he said.

Aside from medical frontliners, non-medical health workers are also exposed to the risks of COVID-19 daily, Villanueva added.

These are barangay health workers, administration staff, utility, social workers, dietary staff, security guards, drivers and hospital employees.

“Every day, they fear for their lives, for the lives of their families,” he stressed.

The ordeal that healthcare workers are going through is compounded by the resignation and early retirement of many of them “because they are exhausted, overworked and tired”.

“We can prevent further resignation of healthcare workers by ensuring that they receive proper benefits.”

“We can prevent further resignation of healthcare workers by ensuring that they receive proper benefits, and – if I may emphasize this important point, that they receive these benefits expeditiously, without any unnecessary delay,” Villanueva said.

By making additional benefits a permanent part of the compensation package for health care workers, the government would show that it was not merely paying lip service to these pandemic heroes, he said.

These benefits include COVID risk allowance, compensation for those who get COVID, regular testing and full PhilHealth coverage, according to Villanueva.

Also important, he said, is providing “definite timelines as to when these should be distributed.”

“We are giving a more appropriate and dignified salute to our pandemic heroes,” Villanueva concluded.

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