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1,000 Iloilo public health workers to get P50M in benefits

By Nestor P. Burgos Jr.
Inquirer Visayas
First Posted 22:48:00 12/19/2010

Filed Under: Christmas, Local authorities, Labor

ILOILO CITY, Philippines ? Around 1,000 government health workers in Iloilo will receive P50 million in unpaid hazard pay and other benefits under a compromise agreement with the provincial government.

In the agreement signed between Iloilo Gov. Arthur Defensor and officials of the Iloilo Health Workers Association Inc. (IWHA) on Dec. 16, the provincial health workers agreed to terminate their legal case seeking payment of their hazard pay and subsistence and laundry allowances covering nine years.

The health workers agreed to accept compensation equivalent to only one year, or from January to December this year, as part of the compromise agreement.

The provincial government will release, hopefully before the end of 2010, a total of P49.62 million as payment of the health workers? benefits from January to December of this year, Provincial Legal Officer Dennis Ventilacion said on Sunday.

Funding

The health worker will each receive from P40,000 to P70,000, according to provincial administrator Raul Banias.

The funding for the health workers? benefits will also be incorporated in the annual budget of the provincial government starting next year, added Ventilacion.

The agreement concluded the protracted legal battle of the health workers for payment of their benefits and allowances. The IHWA had filed a mandamus case before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) in Iloilo City in 2007 to require the provincial government to pay the benefits and allowance mandated under Republic Act No. 7305 (Magna Carta of Public Health Workers).

In a ruling on May 4, 2010, the RTC Branch 34 recognized the rights of the provincial health workers to receive the benefits and allowances but the court did not grant the health workers? petition that the benefits be paid retroactively. On Dec. 7, the court dismissed the separate appeals filed by IHWA and the provincial government.

Ventilacion said that under the compromise agreement, IHWA agreed not to further appeal the court decision.

The compromise agreement was submitted to the RTC on Friday and the benefits and allowances would be released once the court approves the agreement, said Ventilacion.

Defensor said in a statement released by the Capitol on Friday that he has directed the provincial budget officer, provincial accountant, provincial treasurer and provincial health officer to prepare all the necessary papers for his signature so that the hazard pay and other benefits could be immediately released.

?I think all of us have come to realize that it is for the best interest of our health workers that we should sign this compromise agreement,? Defensor said in the statement.

Pampanga

In the City of San Fernando, the Pampanga provincial government on Thursday began handing out a P40,000-productivity enhancement incentive (PEI) to each of its 2,051 permanent and casual employees, Gov. Lilia Pineda said.

The governor and the provincial board approved more than P84 million for PEI through a supplemental budget.

Executive Order No. 3 issued by President Aquino had recommended austerity among national and local governments and cautioned them to base their PEI on their financial capacity.

It was the first time that provincial employees received such a huge amount. They did not get their PEI in 2009 on the heels of a dispute between former Gov. Eddie Panlilio and the board.

Panlilio had approved a P10,000-bonus and agreed to an additional P10,000 only after the employees showed satisfactory performance after an evaluation.

With a report from Tonette Orejas, Inquirer Central Luzon


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