Unlike Harry Roque, we thank and support our gallant medical frontliners
Ordinary workers share the revulsion of the Filipino public toward the rants of presidential spokesperson Harry Roque against health care workers (HCWs). The HCWs were asking for benefits and support from the Duterte administration, but what they got instead was an insulting tirade.
Roque has no right to berate our medical frontliners. It has almost been a month since President Duterte’s Aug. 21 order to the budget and health departments to release the Bayanihan 2 benefits to HCWs. These benefits were supposed to have been given in 2020. The law’s extension is still pending in Congress, and its supposed beneficiaries are yet to receive their benefits.
Truth be told, Bayanihan 2 provides benefits only to those directly handling COVID-19 patients, even as other hospital employees are prone to contracting the virus since they work in the same risky environment. The scope of its benefits is also limited to areas placed under enhanced community quarantine and modified enhanced community quarantine, disregarding the fact that hospitals in general community quarantine and modified general community quarantine areas are still prone to the same risks.
Moreover, benefits for hospital workers are absent not only in the 2021 budget but also in Bayanihan 3, which was already passed in the House of Representatives, and in the proposed General Appropriations Act of 2022. This reveals the shockingly low regard this ungrateful administration has for health workers in private and public hospitals. HCWs are regarded as mere expenditures, not as human beings who sacrifice their lives to provide for their families and to keep the nation healthy and safe.
Protection for medical workers should be included in the 2022 budget. But reforms should be put in place as well to ensure that these benefits will not remain on paper, as the Department of Health’s bungled implementation of the Bayanihan 2 benefits shows.
The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP) supports the sectoral demands of HCWs for the immediate release of the Bayanihan 2 benefits and their continued benefits in the coming budget. We likewise condemn the insensitivity of Roque, the alter ego of the outgoing Malacañang occupant who is mirrored so effectively by his spokesperson.
The welfare of the people, and our national survival, depends on the well-being of our HCWs. Our frontliners are not only in hospitals, medical centers, and clinics. Workers are at the frontlines of our economy, too; in providing for their families, they create and distribute the needs of the Filipino people. The amelioration, protection, and decent employment of the entire Filipino working class should be prioritized, especially amid the health and economic crises. Any economic recovery should be hinged on improving the lives and livelihood of workers. Labor, according to the 1987 Constitution, is our “primary socioeconomic force.”
Lastly, on behalf of the Filipino people, we would like express our gratitude to our gallant medical frontliners. We are not ingrates. We are not like Roque, Duque, and Mr. Duterte.
LUKE ESPIRITU, president, Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP)
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
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