SENATOR Risa Hontiveros urged the Department of Health (DOH) to immediately resolve numerous reports of unpaid salaries and benefits of health frontliners, who have been enduring months of difficult and dangerous work amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The best way we can thank our frontliners is to ensure that they receive all the proper salaries and benefits due to them under the law. Ibigay natin ang sweldo at proteksyon na nararapat para sa ating mga health worker bilang pagkilala sa kanilang kabayanihan at sakripisyo,” Hontiveros said.
The senator made the call after news reports revealed the plight of many contractual contact tracers hired four months ago by the DOH, who have yet to receive their salaries, in some cases even after their contracts had expired.
Likewise, some medical workers in public medical facilities like the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) have reportedly not been able to receive hazard pay as required by law.
“Maliit na nga ang sahod, hindi pa naiibigay on time. Ito ba talaga ang tamang pagtrato sa ating frontliners? The DOH needs to act with more haste in processing the salaries and benefits of our medical workers, who perform tasks critical to our health response against the pandemic, such as contact tracing, testing and treatment of COVID-19 patients,” she said.
Hontiveros said that DOH must work overtime and streamline its processes so that it could end months-long delays in payments to medical workers.
“Hindi pwedeng isisisi lang lagi ng DOH sa kulang na documentary requirements ang mabagal na pagbigay ng sweldo ng ating contact tracers at ibang frontliners,” she said.
She said that the DOH must fix the problem immediately since the new Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) mandates that all public and private health workers treating COVID-19 cases must receive an additional P10,000 as Special Risk Allowance.
If government fails to address the delays in the payment of health workers, Hontiveros warned that the country’s frontliners will be further demoralized, thus affecting the government’s campaign to recruit more nurses, doctors, contact tracers and other medical professionals for the country’s COVID-19 related programs.
“Pinipilit natin ang mga health workers na manatili sa bansa sa pamamagitan ng health worker deployment ban, pero hindi natin maibigay ng tama ang sweldo na kailangan nila para buhayin ang kanilang pamilya. This is an unjust situation which government must correct immediately,” Hontiveros concluded.