President Rodrigo Duterte “strongly recommended” the inclusion of stipend and additional benefits for healthcare workers in the so-called “Bayanihan 2” — a bill that contains a stimulus package for the country’s recovery from the impact of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
“Well, if you want to term it stipend or allowances, or pay, give us time, we will make the report. Sana masali ito sa the second Bayanihan (I hope it will be included in the second Bayanihan),” he said in a late night public address on Sunday.
Duterte said if the stipend would be included, he would release it to healthcare workers “without delay.”
“From the treasury, diretso na sa inyo (if will go straight to you). If you want it to be treasury warrant, fine. If you want it to be encashed, fine. We will look for the right persons to distribute it to you. But the thing is you can rest assured that there will be no corruption dito (here),” he said.
He said additional benefits for healthcare workers will also be included in the Bayanihan 2.
“Regarding the benefits, we will also strongly recommend it to be included in the Bayanihan 2: insurance, then free accommodation, free transportation, free and frequent testing,” he said.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, Duterte approved his Cabinet’s seven-point recommendation to address issues of healthcare workers after they called for a “timeout” or a shift back to a more stringest quarantine classification to curb the spread of the deadly disease.
Among these are additional benefits for healthcare workers, such as risk allowance for private sector healthcare workers treating Covid-19 patients, the amount of PHP10,000 to 15,000 for every healthcare worker that gets infected with Covid-19, life insurance, free accommodation, free transportation, free and frequent testing.
Duterte approved the recommendation to hire additional healthcare workers; minimize movement by implementing quarantine passes; directing local government units (LGUs) to intensify the localized lockdowns; enforce guidelines for minimum health standards; and prioritize the use of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing.
He also reverted Metro Manila and the provinces of Laguna, Rizal, Cavite, Bulacan to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) after Covid-19 cases in the country breached 100,000.
Join the police
Recognizing the need for healthcare workers to have better salaries, Duterte urged them to consider joining the police force to earn better wages.
“Those who want to work with government, lahat ng mga nurses, pumasok kayo sa pulis kasi malaki ang suweldo (join the police force, because they have a higher pay). If you remain a nurse outside, you only get about eight, nine, 10 [thousand pesos],” he said.
Last month, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) issued Budget Circular 2020-4, that upgrades the entry-level salaries of government nurses from Salary Grades 11 to 15.
On Saturday, 80 medical associations representing thousands of doctors signed a letter asking the government to implement a more stringent quarantine classification, saying they are “tired” of fighting a losing battle against Covid-19. (PNA)