Healthcare workers expressed concern about the plan to end the state of public health emergency in the Philippines as it will lead to the discontinuation of the special allowances they receive.
Health Secretary Ted Herbosa said Tuesday that President Ferdinand 'Bongbong' Marcos Jr. is inclined to withdraw the declaration of a state of public health emergency in the country, which started in March 2020.
Health workers rendering services for COVID-19 patients will no longer receive their Health Emergency Allowances once the public health emergency is over.
'Kulang kulang at marami pang hindi pa nabibigyan ng ipinangako nila na HEA, tapos ngayon ititigil na nila,' said Ronald Richie Ignacio, spokesperson of the United Private Hospital Unions of the Philippines.
(The allowances are insufficient and many have not yet been given the HEA promised by the government. Now, they want to end it.)
UPHUP lead convener Rene Capito said the government must guarantee the continuity of HEA even after the declaration is lifted.
'We have already proven that the government can fund it for three consecutive years. It is also necessary that the government must ensure its proper implementation,' he said.
Herbosa earlier assured health workers they will get their unpaid benefits after Rep. LRay Villafuerte urged the secretary to release the P12.57 billion balance out of the P19.96 billion worth of COVID-19 allowances and benefits.
According to the health chief, 'most of the benefits' had already been released.
The United Private Hospital Unions of the Philippines also emphasized the need to institutionalize hazard pay for private health workers.
'Public health workers have hazard pay because there's the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers. We, in the private sector, do not have hazard pay. We're only relying on HEA, and now it will be discontinued,' said Sherwin Moscosa, president of St. Luke's Medical Center-Global City Union.
Herbosa earlier said that he wants the state of public health emergency lifted as the COVID-19 pandemic no longer constitutes a crisis. He noted that physicians now consider COVID-19- killed over 66,000 Filipinos and wreaked economic and social havoc-'as just one of the respiratory diseases.'
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