Press Release
September 28, 2021

Bong Go pays tribute to medical workers for their service and sacrifices as Senate adopts resolution on 43rd National Physicians' Day

In honor of National Physicians' Day, Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher "Bong" Go expressed his support to medical workers by co-sponsoring a resolution that recognizes the sacrifices and commends the immeasurable contributions of all Filipino doctors amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a manifestation placed into the record during the Senate Session on Monday, September 27, Go conveyed his appreciation for their continued dedication and commitment to serve despite the risks posed by the coronavirus which have resulted in a considerable loss of human life around the world.

"As we battle this pandemic, we see every day the heroic contributions of our healthcare workers including our doctors ... Our medical frontliners have faced the challenge of providing care for patients with COVID-19, risking their own lives to save the lives of others," said Go.

"Almost two years na po silang nakikipaglaban sa pandemyang ito. Alam kong pagod at hirap na sila kaya hindi tayo dapat magkulang sa suporta. Sa katunayan, nai-report na nga na ilan sa mga ospital dito sa Metro Manila ay umaabot na sa full or critical capacity, tulad ng St. Luke's Medical Center... nahahawa at nagkakasakit na rin ang karamihan sa mga healthcare workers," he continued.

To ensure they are properly compensated, Go vowed to push for the immediate passage into law of Senate Bill No. 2398, also known as the Allowances and Benefits for Healthcare Workers Act of 2021.

His proposed bill provides all HCWs who are engaged in health and health-related work in health facilities a fixed monthly COVID-19 special risk allowance, in addition to the hazard pay granted under the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers, during the ongoing State of Public Health Emergency.

It also gives all public health workers a monthly Active Hazard Duty Pay on top of the hazard pay granted under the law during the same period. Moreover, all medical expenses for any work-related injury or illness due to COVID-19 exposure will be covered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation.

Healthcare workers will include all medical, allied health professional, administrative and support personnel, employed regardless of their employment status.

"Isa ito sa pagpapakita ng pasasalamat ng gobyerno at ng buong bansa para sa napakalaking sakripisyo ng ating mga doktor at heathcare workers. I thank our Chairman of the Committee on Finance, Senator (Sonny) Angara for prioritizing this measure," said Go, who further pointed out the need to augment the country's health workforce.

"Isa sa mga dapat sikapin nating itaguyod ay ang pagpapadami ng ating healthcare workers sa bansa. Para mapagaan na rin ang pasanin ng ating mga doktor ay kailangan natin magdagdag ng mga doktor lalo na sa mga probinsya. Kaya po ipinasa natin ang Doktor Para sa Bayan Law sa pangunguna ng sponsor, Senator Joel Villanueva, at principal author, Senate President Sotto," he explained.

The law, which Go also co-authored and co-sponsored in the Senate, aims to provide access to free medical education by establishing a Medical Scholarship and Return Service Program for Filipino students so they can pursue medical courses in State Universities and Colleges or Private Higher Education Institutions in regions where there are no SUCs offering a medical course. Republic Act 11509 was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on December 23, 2020.

"This will pave way for us to substantially increase the number of our doctors in the country. I urge the concerned agencies to ensure the proper and immediate implementation of the law ... Our physicians and healthcare workers are the most essential aspect of the response, and the country is forever honored for their dedication, professionalism and commitment," he ended.

To further strengthen the health workforce, Go also filed SBN 1451 in April 2020 which seeks to establish a Medical Reserve Corps composed of individuals who have degrees in health-related fields but have yet to obtain professional licenses.

The Medical Reserve Corps may be called upon to assist the national government and the local government units in their functions related to addressing the medical needs of the public in times of national emergencies.

In 1978, Proclamation No. 1789 declared September 27 of every year as Physician's Day in honor of Filipino physicians.

The Senate Resolution honoring doctors during the 43rd National Physicians' Day was principally authored by Senator Angara and adopted by the Senate in which all members were made co-sponsors.

The Resolution recognizes that the coronavirus has infected some 2.4 million Filipinos as of writing, including 25,336 HCWs of whom 105 have lost their lives in the performance of their duty.

It acknowledges the physical, emotional and mental toll of the pandemic on HCWs who must endure long working hours while regularly dealing with their patients' deaths and not seeing their families and loved ones for long periods of time.

The Resolution further honors those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and continue to serve the nation by accepting the risks in order to help fight the virus. It calls on the Philippine government to recognize the Filipino physicians and other HCWs as "modern heroes," for attending to the sick and playing a key role in the national vaccination program by monitoring and administering the COVID-19 vaccines.

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