Act with dispatch on healthcare workers’ benefits – Gordon
Senator Richard J. Gordon called on his Senate colleagues to prioritize the measure granting the continued benefits of essential healthcare workers who risk their lives in relieving suffering and saving lives, especially during this pandemic.
Gordon said his measure, logged as Senate Bill 2371, mandates the continuing grant of the special risk allowance (SRA) and other benefits to both public and private health workers with retroactive application from July 2021.
“Our health workers risk their lives to respond to their duty of collectively operating the country’s healthcare system during this pandemic. We earnestly seek for the passage of this measure so that we can give what is due them,” he said.
“Buhay nila at ng kanilang mga pamilya ang nasa panganib dahil sa pagtupad sa kanilang tungkulin. Kaya naman ang ating gobyerno, dapat gawan ng paraang maibigay ang mga benepisyong nararapat para sa kanila,” he added.
Various healthcare workers have recently held protests to demand the government to grant them their special risk allowance and hazard pay as they are at higher risk of exposure to the coronavirus disease during this pandemic.
Based on 2015 official figures, there are about 488,800 healthcare professionals in the country. In 2020 alone, about five percent of the total COVID-19 cases in the country are healthcare workers, 38 of whom have died due to the virus.
In a hearing of the Senate blue ribbon committee he chaired, Gordon lamented the alleged misuse of the government COVID-19 funds where healthcare workers’ benefits, such as active hazard duty pay (AHDP) and SRA, were delayed.
He urged the Senate leadership to calendar the deliberation of SB 2317 he authored, along with Sen. Sonny Angara on next week’s agenda as Congress resumes deliberation of next year’s national budget.
“The outbreak of COVID-19 constitutes an emergency that threatens national security. This requires government agencies to implement urgent and necessary measures to aid the conditions and alleviate the suffering of the Filipinos,” he said.
According to him, all hospital workers, whether assigned to COVID or non-COVID facilities, should receive their SRA as they are all exposed to patients and at highest risk of contracting COVID-19, including the health of their families.
He also underscored that the government must protect and promote the right to health of the people as stated in the Constitution.