By Dominique Gabriel G. Bañaga
Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said they have yet to receive any feelers coming from local health workers if they will join the ongoing protest or if they are threatening a mass resignation.
The health workers in the country have earlier threatened to resign from their posts due to the alleged inability of the Department of Health (DOH) to deliver on their benefits amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Lacson, it is going to be a very unfortunate situation if the health workers decide to “walk out” of their jobs.
However, as of present, Lacson said he has not received any information if health workers in the province will also do the same.
Diocese of San Carlos Bishop Gerardo Alminaza, who is also the chairperson of the Church People and Workers Solidarity movement, meanwhile, said they are backing the protests of the health workers from both private and public hospitals over the DOH’s failure to release their benefits.
Alminaza said the planned mass protest by the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) is just and legitimate in the midst of the government’s failure to listen to the grievances of the health sector, which includes meal, transportation, and accommodation allowance, special risk allowance (SRA) and active hazard duty pay.
“In his message to the participants in the European Regional Meeting of the World Medical Association, Pope Francis strongly denounced what he perceived as the “growing inequality in health care” due to the State’s abandonment of its duty to protect and provide adequate health services. The pope emphasizes “serving the poor, the infirm, the suffering, the outcast and the marginalized,” Alminaza added.
The DOH, meanwhile, has made assurances that they are currently addressing the issue and they are urging the healthcare workers to reconsider.
The health department said more than P15 billion in benefits have already been released, however, they admitted that some of the workers had been left behind.
DOH Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said there are inadvertently miscalculations in terms of the SRA that should be given to the healthcare workers.
“I think we have asked the different institutions through the regional offices to make sure that the HR of the different institutions will give them at least a number of healthcare workers that [have] not been provided,” Vega said.
He is also appealing to the affected healthcare workers for more patience as they try to resolve the issue./DGB, WDJ