Public health workers stage protest action to demand ‘overdue’ benefits
MANILA, Philippines — Health workers from various public hospitals on Monday held a protest action in front of the office of the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to demand their “just and long overdue” benefits and salaries.
In a statement, the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) said that the performance-based bonus for 2018 and 2019 has not yet been given, and lamented that the Active Hazard Duty Pay (AHDP) is likewise “selective and divisive.”
Cristy Donguines, president of the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center Employees Union-AHW, noted that the word “Bayanihan” in the Bayanihan 2 law is supposed to represent a “community spirit” that unites people to work together.
“But it is the opposite with the COVID-19 Active Hazard Duty Pay and Special Risk Allowance (SRA) under Bayanihan Law 2 and its subsequent Administrative Orders No. 35 and 36, and DBM-DOH [Department of Health] Joint Circulars No. 1 and 2,” she said.
“It is selective and divides our ranks and does not recognize health workers’ big role in the alleviation of COVID-19,” she added.
Donguines said the DOH and DBM’s guidelines provide that the grant of AHDP and SRA will be selective and that only health workers with direct contact with COVID-19 patients are eligible to receive the said benefits.
The health workers likewise criticized the setting up of a deadline for the submission of requirements for the grant of the benefits for private hospital workers.
“Setting a deadline only reveals that this government does not care and value us health workers who sincerely and heroically risk their lives in the fight against the deadly coronavirus disease,” said Ernesto Bulanadi, president of the Tondo Medical Center Employees Association-AHW.
Donguines added: “This government must refrain from adding more sufferings and miseries inflicted upon us, we had enough.”
Further, the health workers also pushed for the immediate release of their unpaid benefits like the performance-based bonus for 2018 and 2019.
“We, health workers did our part in the efficiency of government service in delivering a public health service even extending hours for work. What else do we need to prove in order for us to get this benefit?” said Jever Bernardo, President National Children’s Hospital Employees Association-AHW.
“The Christmas holiday is coming and we badly need these benefits to supplement our needs because our wages cannot make us a living. We highly demand that our PBB 2018 and 2019 should be released because it’s been long overdue,” Bernardo also said.