Senator Bong Go, who heads the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, commended the Department of Health for fast-tracking the provision of benefits to the country’s health care workers (HCWs).
Go further reminded DOH and those in the Executive branch to ensure the proper implementation of the law by providing what is due to frontliners while the country aims for pandemic recovery.
In a statement issued by the DOH last May 19, the agency reassured that it is exerting great efforts to hasten the release of COVID-19 sickness and death compensation worth P1 billion for qualified HCWs and support staff.
“Nagpapasalamat po ako sa Department of Health sa mabilisang pagtugon sa pangangailangan ng ating healthcare workers. Dapat lang po talaga na aksyunan agad ng gobyerno ang nararapat para sa kanila lalo na’t nakasaad ito sa batas,” the legislator underscored.
“Hindi masusuklian ang hirap at sakripisyo nila upang makapagligtas ng buhay.”
“As much as possible, kung kakayanin naman ng pondo, dapat ibigay natin ang lahat ng suportang pwede nating ibigay. Hindi masusuklian ang hirap at sakripisyo nila upang makapagligtas ng buhay,” the lawmaker added.
Last April 27, President Rodrigo Duterte inked Republic Act 11712 which grants mandatory continuing benefits and allowances to public and private HCWs, regardless of employment status, during the COVID-19 pandemic and other public health emergencies.
Under the law, each frontliner will be entitled to a fixed COVID-19 allowance per month of service applied retroactively from July 2021.
“Republic Act No. 11712, which I was among those who authored and co-sponsored, covers all public and private medical, allied medical and other personnel who are assigned in hospitals, laboratories, and medical or temporary treatment and monitoring facilities,” the senator explained.
“Sa ilalim ng batas na ito, mas maraming healthcare workers na ang makakatanggap ng allowance. Hindi na limitado sa mga directly exposed sa COVID-19 patients dahil sabi ko nga, lahat naman ng frontliners na naka-duty sa mga ospital ay maituturing na exposed sa banta ng COVID-19,” he added.
“Kaya dapat masiguro na maimplementa ito ng maayos. Huwag na natin sayangin ang oras. Ibigay ang dapat ibigay na naaayon sa batas,” Go reiterated.
Under RA 11712, public and private HCWs are entitled to a health emergency allowance for every month of service during a state of public health emergency based on the risk categorization.
For HCWs assigned in low-risk areas, they will receive P3,000 while P6,000 shall be given to those in medium-risk areas. Furthermore, those who work in high-risk areas will be granted P9,000.
In addition, the healthcare workers will be receiving separate compensation if they contract COVID-19 while on duty. Those with mild to moderate symptoms will receive P15,000 while individuals with severe symptoms or in a critical state will receive P100,000.
Meanwhile, for those who unfortunately succumb to the virus, the government will be giving P1,000,000 to the families they left behind.
“Gaya ng sinabi ko noong deliberation namin sa Senado about the Special Risk Allowance, hindi po ako pumayag na pipiliin natin na ‘yung exposed lang daw. Iko-compute ‘yung oras ng ilang oras lang na-expose. Sabi ko, napaka unfair niyan. Hindi po ako papayag diyan. Dahil once na pumasok ka sa ospital na ‘yan noong unang panahon, talagang exposed ka,” the senator emphasized in his remarks during his monitoring visit of the Malasakit Center in Valenzuela Medical Center recently.
“Ito ‘yung kalaban na hindi natin nakikita. So, napaka unfair naman po iko-compute mo kung kailan ka pumasok. How about ‘yung nasalubong mo at na-expose sa ‘yo… yung risk allowance na ‘yon, dapat talaga maibigay sa mga kababayan natin (na qualified),” he added.
Go has been persistent in advocating for a better and strengthened healthcare system in the country. He had earlier appealed for the provision of allowances for HCWs at the height of the pandemic.
In 2019, he was also instrumental in the enactment of Republic Act No. 11466 or the “Salary Standardization Law 5”. The measure gives all civilian government employees, including nurses, increased salaries broken down in tranches.
In the same year, Go likewise ensured that enough funding was allotted for the implementation of the 2019 Supreme Court decision that upheld Section 32 of the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002, which sets the minimum salary grade of the Nurse I position at SG-15.
“Sila ang dahilan kung bakit napakaganda ng ating COVID-19 response.”
“Hindi pa po rito nagtatapos ang aking apela sa gobyerno na bigyan ng nararapat na suporta ang ating mga healthcare at non-healthcare workers. Sila ang dahilan kung bakit napakaganda ng ating COVID-19 response,” he said.
“Tayong mga public servants, tuloy lang dapat ang malasakit sa ating kapwa. Hindi natin makakaya ito kung wala sila. Walang tigil dapat ang serbisyo lalo na sa panahon ng krisis na ito,” Go concluded.