WATCH: Health workers hold noise barrage over still-unreleased pandemic benefits
MANILA, Philippines — Health workers reiterated their continued disappointment on the government over their still-unreleased pandemic benefits, holding a demonstration on Wednesday in the city of Manila.
This comes a day after they gave an ultimatum for the Department of Health (DOH) to release their law-provided special risk allowance and other compensations until August 31.
“All this time, we have been deceived by DOH Secretary Duque. Certainly, there is enough budget, but when it comes to health workers’ welfare, safety and protection, DOH always informs us that there is no appropriated budget,” said John Paul Gubaton, Vice President of the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center (JRMMC) Employees Union-Alliance of Health Workers (AHW).
“As COA (Commission on Audit) revealed its findings on DOH’s questionable and anomalous disbursement of the COVID-19 response funds, Sec. Duque simply cannot deny us the truth. Thus, we challenge him to immediately release the remaining 70% or the P39.2M budget for our accommodation and transportation allowance for the period of September to December 2020,” he added.
According to AHW, the JRMMC is a DOH-retained hospital that only received 30 percent of the funds intended for the meals, accommodation, and transportation (MAT) allowance of its health workers covering the period of September to December 2020.
The remaining 70 percent was allegedly withheld by the DOH.
Apart from the MAT allowance for the said period, the health workers also demanded the release of its January-June 2021 MAT benefits, active hazard duty pay benefits, and the special risk allowance of health workers both in private and public hospitals.
“We challenge the legislators to remain loyal to justice and truth as we demand accountability from Sec Duque and the Duterte government for their grave inefficiency, gross incompetence, and criminal neglect to all health workers and the Filipino people as well. We want them out from their post now!” said JRRMC Employees Union-AHW President Cristy Donguines.
In its annual audit report, COA found “deficiencies” worth at least P67 billion in the DOH’s 2020 pandemic budget.
The Senate blue ribbon committee has since opened an inquiry into the matter.
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