President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has acknowledged the need to raise the compensation and benefits of healthcare workers amid the global Covid-19 crisis.
“Not enough,” Marcos said of the existing compensation package for medical health workers as he graced with his presence the 100th Anniversary of the Philippine Nurses Association at the Manila Hotel.
“As of 19th August, of this year, the government has disbursed a total of P25.82 billion worth of benefits to our healthcare workers, especially our nurses,” he said.
“These include hazard duty pay, Covid-19 sickness and death compensation, meals, accommodation, and transportation allowances, life insurance, special risk allowance, and the One Covid-19 allowance.”
Marcos said the current salaries of nurses in the Philippines are insufficient, considering the nature of their job, but claimed that the government does not have the budget to increase their pay at present.
“We are still short of funds now, that’s why that will have to do for now. But I think… because you are caring for the sick, that’s a different story. It is difficult to put a price tag on the job you do,” he said in Filipino.
The chief executive also vowed that the government would address “the disparity in salaries between nurses in government hospitals with those in the private sector.”
Philippine Nurses Association president Melvin Miranda said on the sidelines of the event that the compensation and benefits of Filipino nurses are among those they are discussing with the President.
He said the “basic pay of a private nurse” ranges from P9,000 to P15,000 while nurses working for public hospitals earn at least P32,000.
Meanwhile, the Department of Budget and Management vowed to expedite the release of around P63 billion for the provision of the One Covid-19 Allowance for healthcare workers.
DBM said it can facilitate the immediate release of funds once the Department of Health submits all the documentary requirements.
Last month, several employees of the Philippine General Hospital protested the much-delayed release of OCA.
“The DBM empathizes with our healthcare workers, and we are working hard with the Department of Health to ensure that they are accorded with the allowances and benefits that they deserve,” it said.
In February this year, the DBM released a total of P7.92 billion for the disbursement of OCA to around 526,727 eligible public and private healthcare workers and non-HCWs.
The DoH on May 26 requested again the release of P63 billion for the distribution of OCA but failed to submit all the needed requirements, according to the budget agency.
“On 8 June, DBM sent them a response letter requesting them to address the deficiencies on the documentary requirements they submitted,” said the DBM.
“Essentially, we requested them to substantiate their request by sending us the budget breakdown, segregation, actual names of claimants, and other relevant documents for us to clearly determine the universe of eligible beneficiaries,” it added.
The DBM also explained that it had a series of meetings with DoH to discuss the data requirement.
The distribution of OCA to medical frontliners is in accordance with Republic Act 11712.
Under RA 11712, HCWs and non-HCWs are referred to as individuals working in medical facilities and vaccination sites, as well as those involved in Covid-19 response efforts, outsourced personnel exposed to Covid-19, or other public health threats, and village health workers.
Each HCW and non-HCW will receive Covid-19 benefits depending on their level of exposure to the disease.
OCA recipients identified to be at high risk for Covid-19 will receive P9,000 monthly, while those who are deployed in moderate and low-risk areas are entitled to a monthly benefit of P6,000 and P3,000, respectively.
The benefit will be given in full amount to HCWs and non-HCWs who physically report to work for at least 96 hours per month.
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