Press Release
July 15, 2023

'Give health workers what is due to them' -- Bong Go appeals for immediate release of COVID-19 allowances while pushing for salary increase for gov't workers

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go has called upon the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to expedite the release of COVID-19 allowances for healthcare workers who have been at the forefront of the battle against the ongoing pandemic and other health threats.

Recognizing the dedication and sacrifices of healthcare workers, Senator Go, chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, said in an interview after his visit to Quezon City on Monday, July 10, the urgent need to provide them with their well-deserved benefits in accordance with the law.

"Sa ngayon po, hindi pa naman po officially lifted ang declaration of state of public health emergency. Habang nandyan po ito, kung anuman po ang allocated natin sa ilalim ng national budget katulad nu'ng 2023, bilang chairman po ng Committee on Health at Vice Chairman po ng Committee on Finance, mayroon po tayong na-allocate na P19.962 billion allocated sa public health emergency benefits and allowances for healthcare and non-healthcare workers under the national budget 2023. Mayroon pong P52.962 billion na unprogrammed po, pwede pong gamitin ito ng ating gobyerno na ibayad sa ating mga health workers, nasa batas naman po ito," Go explained.

Go underscored that even if the State of Public Health Emergency due to COVID-19 is eventually lifted, the government must ensure that allowances due to healthcare workers are provided to them since the budget has been allocated in this year's appropriations.

"Kaya umaapela po ako sa ating DBM, sa DOH, bilisan po ang pagbibigay ng allowances sa kanila dahil napakaliit po ito na halaga sa sakripisyo at buhay na ibinigay ng mga health workers. Dapat po ibigay sa kanila," he added.

Former president Rodrigo Duterte announced on March 8, 2020, a state of public health emergency in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The declaration requires mandatory reporting, quarantine measures, and disease control prevention efforts.

According to DOH Secretary Teodoro Herbosa, President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. has expressed his intention to lift the state of public health emergency related to COVID-19. Herbosa said they are awaiting a formal order regarding this decision.

If the declaration is revoked, it will also mean the discontinuation of the special allowance provided to healthcare workers who are taking care of COVID-19 patients.

Go, for his part, expressed reservations on the lifting of the state of public emergency since the threat of COVID-19 still exists. He, however, stated that he leaves it to the health officials and experts to determine the best way forward towards pandemic recovery.

"Ngunit kapag na-lift po ito kaya nga sabi ko sana naman po ay pag-aralan nang mabuti dahil para sa akin habang nandyan pa si COVID-19, delikado pa rin po ang panahon," Go said.

"Ngunit kailangan po nating mag-adjust, maaaring pinag-aaralan po ito ng ating Department of Health officials, ng ating Executive, ito pong lifting ng public health emergency. Sa ngayon, para sa akin, dapat po manatili muna dahil habang nandiyan si COVID at para po makatulong pa sa ating mga health workers, mabigyan sila ng allowance," he continued.

Meanwhile, Go maintained his plans to champion another round of salary increase for government workers. With a deep understanding of the invaluable contributions made by public servants across various sectors, the lawmaker believes it is imperative to continuously improve their working conditions and ensure fair compensation.

Go was instrumental in the passage of several laws that benefited health workers, including Republic Act No. 11466 or the Salary Standardization Law 5 that he authored and co-sponsored in the Senate in 2019, which provided salary increases for government workers. He also authored and co-sponsored RA 11712, which grants continuing benefits and allowances to public and private healthcare workers during public health emergencies like COVID-19.

"Alam nyo, hindi po natin mapigilan ang ating mga kababayan na mangibang-bansa. Napakalaki talaga ng diperensya ng sahod sa ibang bansa kumpara sa ating bansa. Kaya isa po sa plano kong isulong 'yung Salary Standardization (Law) 6 (SSL6). Sana pag-aralan po ng ating executive department na magkaroon po ng bagong SSL o itong SSL 6 para mabigyan po ng increase ng sweldo kasama na po ang mga nurses to encourage them na dito na lang po magtrabaho sa ating bansa," Go noted.

"Nananawagan din po ako sa ating mga private hospitals kung sobra naman po ang inyong kita baka naman pwede ninyong i-increase naman ang sweldo ng ating mga private nurses po sa mga private hospitals. Kawawa naman po sila. Iba diyan sa kanila nagrerender po extra hours po para magserbisyo sa private hospitals. Napakaliit po ito na halaga na pwede n'yo naman pong itulong sa mga nurses natin na huwag na pong mangibang-bansa," he continued.

In his commitment to advancing the nursing profession, Senator Go likewise proposed the Advanced Nursing Education bill. This bill, designed to improve the quality and capabilities of nurses, seeks to provide further educational opportunities and support for aspiring and current nursing professionals.

Through Senate Bill No. 191, Senator Go aims to strengthen the healthcare system by ensuring that nurses are equipped with the latest knowledge and skills necessary to deliver high-quality patient care.

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