Senator Christopher “Bong” Go shared that President Rodrigo Duterte instructed the release of additional budget to compensate healthcare workers (HCWs) who contracted COVID-19 and ensure that those serving on the frontlines will have appropriate benefits and financial support they need while fulfilling their duty.
According to Go, the President approved the release of funds amounting to P1.5 billion to cover the compensation of HCWs who contracted COVID-19 while on duty, as well as the meals, accommodation and transportation (MAT) benefits of 423,314 HCWs who have yet to receive the said allowances for the period of September 15 to December 19, 2020.
The senator, who currently heads the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, emphasized the need to guarantee that HCWs are adequately compensated in light of the risks they face while saving lives and helping combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
“As healthcare workers continue their life-saving work, it is incumbent upon the government to show our gratitude by providing them the appropriate allowances and benefits. Hindi pa natatapos ang pandemya, kaya dapat tuluy-tuloy lang ang pagbibigay natin sa kanila ng mga benepisyo,” said Go.
“Almost two years na silang nakikipaglaban sa pandemyang ito. Alam kong pagod na pagod at hirap na hirap na sila kaya hindi tayo dapat magkulang sa pagpapakita ng suporta,” he added.
In line with this, Go reiterated his appeal for the immediate passage of Senate Bill No. 2421, a measure that he authored and co-sponsored, to provide a fixed monthly allowance for healthcare workers during the ongoing State of Emergency due to the pandemic.
The measure takes into consideration an earlier bill that Go has filed and provides a COVID-19 Risk Allowance in lieu of the special risk allowance and other financial compensation granted under Republic Act No. 11494, also known as the “Bayanihan 2.”
Specifically, it gives all HCWs deployed in “high risk areas” a monthly allowance of P9,000, while those in “medium risk areas” and “low risk areas” will be provided P6,000 and P3,000, respectively.
“Sa ilalim ng panukalang ito, mas maraming healthcare workers ang makakatanggap ng allowances. Hindi na ito limitado lamang sa mga directly exposed sa COVID-19 patients dahil nga hindi naman talaga natin alam kung sino ang exposed sa virus na ito. Hindi natin nakikita itong COVID-19,” appealed Go.
In 2019, the lawmaker was instrumental in the enactment of Republic Act No. 11466 or the “Salary Standardization Law 5,” which he authored and co-sponsored. The law gives all civilian government employees, including nurses, increased salaries broken down in tranches.
In the same year, he also 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.
“We do not want low morale among the ranks of our nurses. Sabi ko nga, hindi naman mababayaran ng kahit anuman ang buhay, ngunit mahalaga ito bilang pagkilala sa sakripisyo ng ating mga healthcare workers para sa ating bayan,” said Go.
“Kaya bigyan natin sila ng dapat nilang matanggap at huwag natin silang mahirapan pa. Isa itong pagpapakita ng pasasalamat ng gobyerno at buong bansa sa ating mga healthcare workers.”