Press Release
February 6, 2022

Bicam report on COVID-19 medical frontliners benefits bill ratified as Bong Go assures HCWs that their welfare remains gov't priority

Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health Christopher "Bong" Go welcomed the ratification of the bicameral report which grants mandatory benefits to health workers and non-health workers for the duration of a national public health emergency.

The report reconciles the differing provisions of Senate Bill No. 2421 and House Bill No. 10701. It is set to be signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte, following the bicameral conference on February 2.

As author and co-sponsor of SBN 2421, Go thanked the bill's supporters and commended Committee on Finance chair Sen. Sonny Angara for steering it through the Senate.

"I thank Senator Angara at lahat na nag-file ng similar bills for prioritizing this measure. Sabi ko nga, hindi mababayaran ng kahit anuman ang buhay ng ating mga health workers, ngunit mahalaga ang batas na ito bilang pagkilala sa sakripisyo nila para sa ating bayan," said the lawmaker.

"Isa po itong pagpapakita ng pasasalamat ng gobyerno at ng buong bansa sa ating mga frontliners na itinuturing nating bayani sa laban kontra COVID-19," he continued.

The benefits under the reconciled version will be retroactively applied from July 1, 2021 and remain in effect for the duration of the current state of public health emergency. They will also apply to future national public health emergencies, as declared by the President.

The bill covers all public and private medical, allied medical and other personnel (e.g. security and janitorial staff members) assigned in hospitals, laboratories and medical or temporary treatment and monitoring facilities. It has also been further expanded to Barangay Health Workers and those assigned in Barangay Health Emergency Response teams.

Each frontliner will be entitled to a monthly COVID-19 Risk Allowance as follows: P3,000.00 for those assigned in "low risk" or non-public areas of a health facility; P6,000.00 for those in "medium risk" or public areas of a health facility; and P9,000.00 for those in "high risk" locations, such as the rooms of COVID-19 patients.

Additional benefits will be granted to frontliners in case of sickness or death.

To ensure the provision of the benefits, the President is authorized to reprogram, reallocate and realign unreleased appropriations and unobligated allotment under the Executive Department in the 2021 and 2022 General Appropriations Acts.

Meanwhile, an ad hoc grievance board will be created to receive, investigate, adjudicate and recommend actions relating to any complaints concerning the stipulated benefits.

"Bilang Chair ng Senate Health Committee, palagi kong isinasaalang-alang ang kapakanan ng ating mga health workers. Kaya sa budget ngayong taon, ipinaglaban natin na mas lalong madagdagan ang pondo ng Department of Health upang matugunan ang kanilang pangangailangan, kasama na ang dagdag na health personnel at mga benepisyo nito," said Go.

Go, however, urged the Executive Department to continue working together, particularly the health officials and government finance managers, to make sure funding sources can be made available for its proper implementation if enacted into law.

"Hangga't kaya ng gobyerno, ibigay dapat ang mga benepisyong nararapat para sa ating mga HCWs. Kaya mahalagang mapaghandaan at mapag-aralan ito nang mabuti upang maimplementa ng maayos," said Go.

The senator, as Vice Chair of the Senate Committee on Finance, had also pushed for the allotment of an additional P17 billion in the budget of the DOH for the hiring and deployment of health personnel in provinces as well as P4.3 billion for the COVID-19 Human Resource for Health Emergency hiring. A total of P51 billion in funds were also appropriated for the compensation and benefits of the health workers.

In 2019, Go was similarly instrumental as author and co-sponsor of Republic Act No. 11466 or the Salary Standardization Law 5. The law gives civilian government employees, including nurses, their fifth round of salary increases broken down in tranches.

In the same year, he pushed and ensured enough funding was allotted for the implementation of a Supreme Court decision upholding Section 32 of the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002. The law increases the minimum salary grade of the Nurse I position to SG-15.

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