AIMING to respond to the severe gaps in the already struggling healthcare system revealed by the Covid-19 pandemic, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan files several amendments to the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers.
“Malinaw na hindi sapat ang compensation para sa ating public health workers lalo na ngayong pandemya. Sila na nga ang nahaharap sa panganib, hindi pa mapunan ang kanilang mga pangangailangan upang, unang una, maging ligtas habang nasa frontlines at pangalawa, mabigyan ng katumbas na pasahod ang kanilang serbisyo,” Pangilinan said.
Senate Bill No. (SBN) 2142 seeks to amend the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers or Republic Act 7305 by institutionalizing an increase in allowances and additional compensation of public health workers.
“The old Magna Carta for Public Health Workers is almost 30 years old. There are needs at the present that cannot be met anymore by the old law. And the pandemic has revealed that it is severely lacking in ensuring our public health care workers are adequately compensated in the face of a global health emergency. It has to be updated to respond to the call of the times,” Pangilinan said.
Under SBN 2142, the night differential of public health workers will be increased from 10 percent to 20 percent of their regular wage for each hour of night shift work.
Overtime rate will also be increased from 10 percent to 20 percent.
“Given the difficulty of compensating our front-liners during this pandemic, we want to make sure that hazard allowances are properly and swiftly distributed. We aim to mandate that public health workers will be paid a hazard allowance of 10,000 pesos per month or more, depending on the need and especially when there’s an emergency,” Pangilinan said, noting that the base amount of 10,000 pesos can be increased through the mandate of the Secretary of Health.
“We also want to provide a subsistence allowance of at least 300 pesos per day, and an additional laundry allowance of 500 pesos (from 125 pesos) that will be reviewed periodically and to be increased as needed. Our front-liners deserve all these and more,” Pangilinan said.
SBN 2142 also strengthens the anti-discrimination clause in the Magna Carta by further adding that no public health worker will be discriminated against with regard to sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, civil status, age, disability, religious or political beliefs and affiliations, or ethnicity.
A dialogue between public health workers and the Department of Health (DOH) revealed that there are still unpaid benefits for front-line health workers under the extended Bayanihan Law.
According to the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), most hospitals paid these benefits only until December 19, 2020, while some local government hospitals haven’t received said benefits until now.
Reports in late 2020 indicate that over 16,000 healthcare workers have yet to receive their hazard pay under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
AHW is calling for an increase in Special Risk Allowance of 15,000 pesos per month and Active Hazard Duty Pay of 5,000 pesos per month starting January 2021 until the duration of the pandemic.
While the DOH has committed to follow up with the Department of Budget and Management regarding the 16 billion pesos requested for the delayed hazard pay of frontline health workers, Pangilinan said that the amendments to the Magna Carta will hasten existing bureaucratic roadblocks.
“We have to do better now, and do even better next time. Kailangang mabilis kapag usapin ng buhay at kaligtasan. This is but one of the many necessary changes and updating that our health care system needs,” Pangilinan said.
While the Philippines reported 7,379 additional Covid-19 cases as of April 20, the country inches closer to 1 million with a total of 953,106 reported cases. A total of 1,562,563 vaccines have so far been administered at 3,263 vaccination sites in 17 regions.