Hazard pay to health workers should be released before year-end â Recto
Hospital workers are seen walking at a medical facility in this undated photo
The STAR/Miguel de Guzman

Hazard pay to health workers should be released before year-end — Recto

(Philstar.com) - November 23, 2020 - 7:11pm

MANILA, Philippines — A Senate leader on Monday called on the Duterte administration to settle the issue of unreleased hazard pay and other allowances to health workers dealing with the coronavirus pandemic before the year ends. 

Budget deliberation for the health department's 2021 funding in the upper chamber last week revealed that over 16,700 medical personnel have yet to receive their hazard pay, with no more funds under the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act.

The figure is out of the 86,348 that were compensated from more than P824 million since the law was enacted in March at the early stages of the health crisis. 

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto in a statement said government should make it its New Year's resolution to have no more unpaid due to health workers. 

"Ang pangit kung 2021 na [ay] nangangaroling pa rin sila ng hazard pay na matagal na dapat naibigay," he said. "All those brave nurses, doctors and other frontliners, wherever they are, should have zero-billing at the start of the year."

(It wouldn't look good that by 2021 they are still caroling for their hazard pay that should have been given long ago.)

The number of hospital workers infected with the COVID-19 is nearing 12,000 with at least 75 dead per latest figures by the health department, months since the pandemic hit the country. 

Last week, the group Filipino Nurses United reported that nurses make up the most number of medical personnel who have contracted the deadly virus at over 4,600. 

Recto, the Senate's No. 2, said the backlog in pay for health workers that has stretched on for months only raises the question on government's ability to reach its target of inoculating the entire population for a possible vaccine, a goal that President Rodrigo Duterte set. 

"If we have problems with the payroll of a relatively few, then what gives us the confidence to execute a vaccine delivery plan that is massive in scle, precisely orchestrated and within a limited time window?" he said. 

The president recently signed two administrative orders that would allow additional pay to personnel in both public and private hospitals. 

Administrative Order 35 would grant workers up to P3,000 in hazard pay a month, while Administrative Order 36 would grant special risk allowance at P5,000 for those who directly attend to COVID-19 patients. 

The health department has yet to respond to queries on the status of the COVID-19 hazard pay distribution for the remaining 16,700 health workers to date. — Christian Deiparine

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