Amid clamor from workers, PGH vows to settle delay in hazard pay release

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
Amid clamor from workers, PGH vows to settle delay in hazard pay release
Philippine General Hospital workers in Manila joined by other groups stage a protest calling on the hospital administration for the release of their long-delayed COVID-19 hazard pay and special risk allowance
Filipino Nurses United

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine General Hospital is looking for funds to settle the months-long delay in the release of coronavirus-related allowances to its workers, a senior health official has said. 

UP-PGH personnel had been up in protest and calling on the hospital administration for their hazard pay and special risk allowance, months since the facility was designated as a COVID-19 referral hospital in March. 

Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the situation over PGH had left the DOH concerned, adding that they had been in talks with the hospital's medical chief Dr. Gerardo Legaspi. 

"He explained to us that the primary reason why they were not able to provide these incentives to their staff was because of their lack of budget," she said in a November 27 briefing. "We all know that because we are in a pandemic, the hospital has almost spent all of their MOOE money already and budget for this incentives were really lacking."

Vergeire added that hospital administrators are already seeking help within their system to put an end to the matter.

Hospital administrators are already seeking help within their system to put an end to the matter, Vergeire added, as she sought to explain that PGH is a separate facility and not under the agency.

"He has committed to us and has replied that they are now trying to resolve the issue and look for funds already to provide the accorded benefits for their healthcare workers," she said.

In another briefing, the health official said another possible factor for the delay is also workers' completing their requirements. 

"Kailangan iyong mga healthcare workers also kapag hiningan sila ng needed requirements or document para mai-facilitate ang kanilang suweldo, naipapasa rin nila nang tama, kumpleto at saka on time," Vergeire said.

Maristela Abenojar, national president of the group Filipino Nurses United, had told Philstar.com in an exchange that over 4,200 health workers in the PGH have yet to receive the said compensation since April.

The number, she said, is apart from the more than 16,700 hospital personnel that remain uncompensated as well for their hazard pay, as revealed in DOH's budget deliberation in the Senate for its funding next year.

"These benefits were supposedly a recognition to our heroic and invaluable contribution as we bravely and unselfishly risk our lives and health to be at the forefront in addressing COVID-19," said Karen Mae Faurillo, president of the All UP Workers Union-Manila, in a Black Friday protest at the PGH.

Faurillo said Legaspi has requested to the budget department for more funds but had since been turned down, leaving him to ask UP President Danilo Concepcion for help. But, the union has warned that the move result in patients bearing the brunt of the consequence.

"As much as we appreciate the efforts of Director Legaspi to provide us these benefits, we opposed the idea of borrowing funds from the UP system because subsequently, PGH will be forced to raise income from its patients to pay the UP system, thus making health service inaccessible to our poor patients," she said.

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