Ex-VP Binay urges release of HCW perks


Former Vice President and senatorial aspirant Jejomar C. Binay on Monday urged the government to immediately release the long-delayed benefits for nurses and other health-care workers (HCW) provided by law.

Binay also batted for decent wages and job security for nurses as a long-term solution to the continuing departures of nurses and health workers for higher-paying jobs abroad even during the pandemic. This would make overseas employment “a personal choice rather than a necessity,” he said.

“I am certain that given wages and benefits commensurate to their skills and education, our nurses and other HWs will choose to stay home,” he added.

The former VP issued the call after hospital administrators expressed concern over the continued resignations of nurses amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Hospitals in seven regions have also reported high occupancy rates.

Binay warned that unless immediately addressed, the shortage in nurses could turn critical in the coming months.

“In the event of another surge, its effects on our health-care system could be disastrous,” Binay said.

He added the government should immediately release the long-delayed benefits provided by Bayanihan 1 and 2 for nurses and other HCWs. Groups of health workers have complained that they have yet to receive these benefits.

Binay also expressed support for legislative measures that would provide them additional allowances and benefits retroactively for the duration of the pandemic.

These include added hazard pay, insurance coverage, compensation should they get sick from Covid-19, and indemnification for their families in case of death as a result of Covid infection contracted from work.

“We have been providing other countries with nurses and other health workers, and now we are suffering from their absence,” he said.

Lunch break protest

Health workers from Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center staged a lunch break protest on Wednesday to press senators to scrutinize and increase the 2022 Department of  Health budget and prioritize the health of the people above all.

They also demand  the immediate release of their withheld and unpaid Covid-19 benefits such as the meal, accommodation and transportation allowance (MAT), special risk allowance (SRA), and active hazard duty pay (AHDP).

“Today, the Senate Committee on Finance headed by Sen. Pia Cayetano will hold its second briefing on the 2022 proposed budget of the DOH. We urge the honorable senators to scrutinize the DOH budget and prioritize the health and safety of health workers and the people,” said Cristy Donguines, president of Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center Employees Union-Alliance of Health Workers.

She added “We hope that the senators will listen to the plight of the health workers and the people whose livelihoods have been ruined and their health and safety at risk due to Covid-19 pandemic. In this time of budget deliberation and the upcoming election, the political ambitions and aggrandizements should be set aside.”

With Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco

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