Law institutionalizing emergency benefits for frontliners filed in Senate – Pangilinan

August 17, 2021

FRONTLINE health workers will now be assured of additional benefits during public health emergencies in a new Senate bill.

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan on Tuesday filed a still unnumbered Senate bill known as the “Healthcare Frontliners Protection Act” that pushes to institutionalize additional benefits for public and private health care workers in direct contact with persons affected by the disease during public health emergencies. 

“Ang ating frontliners ang pangunahing depensa ng bansa tuwing public health emergency. Ngunit nakita natin kung gaano kakupad ang pagbibigay ng kanilang hazard pay. Hindi pwede ang mabagal kapag may emergency. Dahil dito, gusto nating pagtibayin ang kanilang mga benepisyo at pabilisin ang pagbibigay nito,” Pangilinan said.

Six additional benefits are being pushed under the Healthcare Frontliners Protection Act.

The bill seeks to provide a monthly Special Risk Allowance in the whole duration of a State of National Emergency.

In addition to the hazard pay granted under Republic Act No. 7305 or the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers, an Active Hazard Duty Pay is also sought.

The Active Hazard Duty Pay will be within 25% of the daily salary rate of the healthcare worker based on the number of days they physically report in service.

“Naging malinaw ngayong COVID ang kakulangan sa ating health care system lalo na sa pag-aalaga at pagpapahalaga sa ating mga frontliners. Umaasa kami na ang batas na ito ay magsisigurong hindi lang pagsasabi ng thank you’ ang matatanggap nila,” Pangilinan said.

“It is the government’s duty to properly and promptly compensate our frontliners in recognition of their service,” he said.

Other benefits under the bill are:

– the payment of all medical expenses in case of exposure to the disease or any work-related injury;

– compensation for those who contracted the disease in the line of duty;

– free life insurance, accommodation, transportation, and meals;

– and the provision of Personal Protective Equipments and free and regular testing. 

Compensation covers sickness of mild and moderate nature (Php 15,000), severe or critical sickness (Php100,000), and death (Php 1 million).

“Ayaw na nating maulit ang nangyari ngayong COVID na grabe ang naging pasanin ng ating mga frontliners tapos late pa ang kanilang benefits at kung saan-saan pa napupunta. We will push for the rights of our healthcare workers in the Senate, especially in the upcoming budget deliberations,” Pangilinan said.

The Commission on Audit (COA) recently flagged some Php 11.68 billion unobligated funds of the Department of Health (DOH) which were supposedly for hazard pay and special risk allowances, among others.

The Senate Blue Ribbon Committee will convene on Wednesday to investigate the 2020 COA report and other issues surrounding the budget utilization of the DOH during the pandemic.

Pangilinan earlier filed amendments to the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers, including additional compensation for frontliners.