Bong Go pushes for better compensation, benefits for barangay health workers
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Christopher “Bong” Go is advocating for better compensation and benefits for Barangay Health Workers (BHWs) considering their critical role in the country’s healthcare system especially in bringing public health services closer to the grassroots.
In an interview on Tuesday, October 24, during a visit to projects he earlier supported in Kapalong, Davao del Norte, Go acknowledged the BHW’s sacrifices and contributions at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Unang-una, ito pong BHW, nagpapasalamat po ako sa ating mga Barangay Health Workers. Isa po sila sa hero ng ating panahon ng pandemya,” Go stated.
(First and foremost, as a BHW, I would like to express my gratitude to our Barangay Health Workers. They are among the heroes of our time during the pandemic.)
“Malaki po ang ginagampanan ng ating barangay health workers sa panahon ng pandemya. Hindi natin mararating itong kinaroroonan natin sa COVID response kung hindi po sa kanilang sakripisyo. Sila po ang umaalalay sa barangay… sila po ang nag-aalaga para sa early detection ng sakit upang hindi na mas lumala pa,” he added.
(The role of our barangay health workers during the pandemic is significant. We wouldn’t have reached this point in our COVID response without their sacrifices. They are the ones who provide support at the barangay level… they are the ones who care for early disease detection to prevent it from worsening.)
To honor their contributions, the senator said he has filed Senate Bill No. (SBN) 427, known as the Barangay Health Workers Compensation Act, which proposes to provide BHWs a monthly honorarium, along with a comprehensive package of benefits, including allowances, job security, regular training, and skill development opportunities.
The proposed benefits are seen as an extension and enhancement of the existing benefits under RA 7883, which already provides various incentives to dedicated BHWs.
“Kaya meron po akong nai-file sa Senado, ang BHW Compensation Act. Na-hearing na po ito sa Subcommittee on Health sa pangunguna ni Senator JV (Ejercito), at meron pang mga susunod na committee hearings,” said Go.
(So I have filed in the Senate, the BHW Compensation Act. This has already been heard by the Subcommittee on Health led by Senator JV [Ejercito], and there will be more committee hearings to come.)
“Papakinggan po natin ang mga LGUs. S’yempre, unang-una rito, ‘yung kakayahan po nilang magbigay ng kompensasyon,” he added.
(We will also listen to the LGUs [Local Government Units]. Of course, the first thing to consider is their ability to provide compensation.)
The bill, if enacted, also extends benefits from key institutions such as the Government Service Insurance System, the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and the Pag-IBIG Fund.
The proposed legislation complements the already enforced Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) – Department of Health (DOH) Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) on BHWs.
The JMC, signed by Secretaries Benjamin Abalos, Jr. and Teodoro Herbosa, will help enforce the provisions of Republic Act 7883, also known as the BHW Incentives and Benefits Act of 1995 and the Universal Health Care Act.
This underscores the government’s dedication to maintaining the delivery of essential primary care services in every barangay, aligning with its broader goal of achieving universal health coverage.
Among its key provisions include the protection of BHWs against termination without due process, a crucial step in ensuring job security for these frontline health workers operating in often challenging and under-resourced environments.
Go also filed Senate Bill No. (SBN) 197 or the Magna Carta for Barangays which seeks to provide adequate support for barangays to help them fulfill their responsibilities effectively. The bill proposes that barangay officials, including the Punong Barangay, members of the Sangguniang Barangay, the Sangguniang Kabataan chairperson, the barangay secretary, and the barangay treasurer, receive similar treatment as regular government employees. This means they would be eligible for salaries, benefits, and allowances, among other perks if enacted into law.
Aside from these legislative efforts, Go also filed SBN 2399, which proposes to declare April 7 as Barangay Health and Nutrition Workers Day.
“I also filed SBN 2399 to give due recognition to the contribution of all barangay health and nutrition workers in the delivery of our primary healthcare services in the country,” he said.