Press Release
May 7, 2021

Hontiveros to DOH: Explain 'cold shoulder' to health workers, delayed hazard pay on Healthcare Workers' Day


On Healthcare Workers' Day, Senator Risa Hontiveros pressed Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to fully explain the year-long delay of hazard pay for healthcare workers and the continuously deteriorating work environment more than a year into the pandemic.

Hontiveros backed health workers union groups, saying that, more than 'words of gratitude', the government should once and for all commit to improving the work conditions of health workers. She said this should come in the form of periodic COVID-19 testing, immune boosters, free PPEs, and continuous hiring of health workers.

"In-extend na ang P13.5 billion sa ilalim ng Bayanihan 2 para matugunan ang mga pangangailangan ng mga health workers, pero hanggang ngayon, hindi pa rin naipapaliwanag ng Health Secretary kung bakit walang maayos na roll-out sa mga ospital," she said.

"All year long, health workers have made desperate calls for better pay and genuine support. The Health Secretary should stop giving them the cold shoulder, and should explain why he fails to do his job when health workers wholeheartedly do theirs with their lives on the line," she added.

Hontiveros said that the overwhelmed hospitals are 'hell on earth' for health workers who continue to remain burnt out by the lack of action of the Department of Health (DOH) to provide substantial aid to them.

"Umabot tayo sa puntos na may mga ulat na KKB o kanya-kanyang bayad ang ibang health workers para sa ginagamit nilang personal protective equipment (PPEs). Parang wala tayong pake kung mabuhay sila o hindi," she said.

"Health workers deserve safe and decent working conditions. Instead of Sec. Duque insisting that all the needs are being met, perhaps he should listen to what the health workers in the hospitals have to say. In the middle of a health crisis, an out of touch Health Secretary is the last thing we need," she remarked.

Hontiveros, who also discovered the P1 billion government overspent on foreign-made PPEs in 2020, lamented the wasted funds that she says the country 'badly' needs now.

"Limitado na nga ang pondo natin, sinasayang pa. Every time we purchase anything overpriced, we deduct funds from medicine, temporary treatment facilities, and PPEs which could have gone to saving another life," she remarked.

"Sa mga health workers, walang pagpapasalamat ang makakabawi sa sakripisyo ninyo. Your hard work gives us hope. To the Health Secretary, acknowledge that we are not doing enough for health workers and give them the dignity of wages and benefits that can support them and their families' lives in the middle of a health and economic crisis. Patuloy tayo maniningil. It is time this government shows them we truly appreciate health workers' sacrifice," she concluded.

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