Health workers’ group demand release of pandemic allowances, benefits
MANILA, Philippines — The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) urged the Marcos administration to release the COVID-19-related allowances and benefits due to health workers even after the lifting of the state of public health emergency nationwide.
Salome Ejes, president of the Philippine Heart Center Employees Association and member of AHW, told President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. that health workers need more than “gratitude and appreciation.”
The President, in his second State of the Nation Address on Monday thanked medical professional for their service and dedication at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Mr. President, we heard it many times. But more than gratitude and appreciation, what we need is the sincerity of your administration,” said Ejes in a statement on Wednesday.
“You already lifted the state of health emergency but the COVID-19 allowances covering the period of July-December 2021 and January-December 2022 [are] not yet provided to [health workers]. Yet you still owe us the January-June 2023 Health Emergency Allowance,” Ejes added.
Meanwhile, Cristy Donguines, president of the Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center Employees Union and also a member of AHW, likewise criticized Marcos for not tackling in his speech the potential solutions for understaffing in public hospitals.
“He did not even tackle on how to address the perennial understaffing in public hospitals by implementing mass hiring and regularization of contractual health workers,” said Donguines in the same statement.
“No mention of health budget increase for 2024. Yet, he boasted of putting up specialty hospitals in the region but he did not state if it is publicly funded or another scheme of privatization,” Donguines added.
Marcos delivered his second Sona last July 24. In his more than hour-long speech, he vowed to “repay the sacrifices of health care workers” saying that his administration will “distribute their COVID health emergency allowance and other pending benefits.”
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