On the 2020 COA Report and DOH Budget

Opening Statement of Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan
Senate Blue Ribbon Committee Hearing on the 2020 COA Report and DOH Budget

 

A year ago, a nurse from Cainta made headlines. In a viral Facebook post, Joie Cruz said that her mom, 47-year-old Maria Theresa Cruz, died before even getting her hazard pay. When Joie was told that the hazard pay was ready weeks after her mother passed, she was expecting at least Php 30,000. Based on DOH’s public pronouncements of a Php 500 hazard pay per day. Their family, however, received only Php 7,000.

Bukod sa late o nahuli na ang hazard pay, hindi pa po ito sapat upang suklian ang sakripisyo at pagbubuwis ng buhay ng ating mga kababayan lalo na ang frontliners na araw-araw hinaharap ang panganib sa pandemya.

The story of the Cruz family is but one of the many stories behind the scenes of how our frontliners have to wait even weeks or months, or wait in vain just to get the hazard pay owed to them. In a pandemic where they are part of the country’s first line of defense, they had to suffer through many gaps of our healthcare system: from working long hours, to not having proper PPEs, while not being properly compensated.

This is why we are alarmed over the Commission on Audit’s report earlier mentioned by our Minority Leader, by the Chair of the Committee, and also Senator Hontiveros.

Ayon sa DBM as of June 30, 2021 nung nag-expire ang Bayanihan II, P13.8 billion ay unobligated, at P7.57 billion dito ay sa DOH. Gagamitin dapat ito sa pag-implementa ng Bayanihan II kasama na ang pag-hire ng Human Resources for Health personnel, procurement ng medisina and COVID vaccines, pambayad sa sahod at iba pang benefits ng mga Human Resources for Health, at patuloy na COVID-19 laboratory testing.

Habang pagod at nagkukumahog ang ating mga doktor at nurses, mapapabalita pa ang di umano’s bilyon-bilyong korapsyon sa DOH. Nakaka-demoralize talaga. 

Nung isang linggo, nagkaroon ng pagpupulong ang ilang mga nurses association, mga empleyado ng iba’t ibang mga ospital, kasama ang ating Chairman ng komite, kasama si Senator Hontiveros, at pinag-usapan ‘yung bilyung-bilyong halaga na hazard pay na hindi na matatanggap ng mga employadong ito dahil nag-expire na ang Bayanihan II. Ang sagot ng DOH, hindi daw nag-apply itong mga ospital na ito para makuha itong mga benefits na ito. Ay, dapat magpaliwanag ang DOH. Tama ba ‘yon dahil hindi na lang nag-apply, hindi na rin pinroseso? Hindi ba nagkaroon ng mas masinop na pagpapabigay ng impormasyon para mapabilis itong prosesong ito?

Dahil sa pag-expire ng Bayanihan II last June 30, hindi na maaaring ma-release ang pondong ito, nabalik na sa treasury. Kinakailangan ng bagong batas na hindi naibigay sa services rendered, ika nga, ng ating mga frontliners.

In this regard, we have filed a Senate Bill that has yet to be numbered, I understand it will be numbered on Monday, the Healthcare Frontliners Protection Act, to ensure the disbursement and the appropriation of these funds for services already rendered and yet the fund has not been obligated and therefore it has been returned to the treasury; to ensure prompt and proper distribution of benefits for healthcare workers during public health emergencies.

Under the proposed measure we seek to legislate benefits and compensation that were provided but failed to be disbursed under Bayanihan Law 2. 

We propose six permanent benefits for our frontline health workers:

–       Special risk allowances for every month in the duration of the National Emergency;

–       Active Hazard Duty Pay within 25% of their daily salaries on top of the hazard pay;

–       Assumption of all medical expenses of public and private health workers in case of exposure to the disease;

–       Compensation for public and private health workers who have contracted the disease in the line of duty equivalent to the following:

  • (Php) 15,000 for mild cases or moderate cases;
  • (Php) 100,000 for severe cases; and
  • (Php) 1,000,000 will be given to direct beneficiaries in case of death;

–       We include free life insurance, accommodation, transportation, and meals under the National State of Emergency; and of course

–       Provisions for PPEs and free and regular testing.

Hindi pwede ang mabagal kapag emergency. Alam yan ng ating healthcare workers, at dapat alam din ng pamahalaan. 

We hope our questions can be clarified with this hearing, and we look forward to discussing with you also on our proposed “Healthcare Frontliners Protection Act” so that we can provide the necessary support for our frontliners as we face this pandemic.

Maraming salamat at magandang araw sa kanilang lahat.


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