House probe sought on reported delays in health workers’ benefits

MANILA 1st District Rep. Manuel Luis “Manny” T. Lopez on Tuesday filed House Resolution  1704, which calls for an investigation on the reported delays in the release of allowances and other benefits of healthcare workers in the time of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.

“The complaints from our essential workers should not fall on deaf ears, but rather, should compel us to review and reformulate the country’s Covid-19 response for the safety and welfare of our citizens and the nation,” Lopez said. “Undue delay in the provision of benefits and allowances to our essential workers is absolutely reprehensible.”

Reports cited by the lawmaker revealed that health frontliners and other essential workers are demanding for their long-overdue benefits, such as special risk, meals, transportation, and accommodation allowances, and performance-based bonuses. He said medical workers were also reportedly being charged for their RT-PCR tests while others were not provided with pandemic or quarantine leaves — or pay for those under a job order or contractual agreement.

Lopez reiterated that the government is mandated by law to shoulder all medical expenses of public and private health workers in case of exposure to Covid-19, and provide compensation to them or to their families in case of death. It is also obliged to provide frontliners with a special allowance and life insurance, as well as personal protective equipment (PPE), accommodation, transportation, and food, among others.

“Our frontliners need government action now; and it is at this juncture that we call for an immediate investigation into their pleas and complaints,” said Lopez. “[They] are risking their lives every day. The least we can do is to listen to them and give what they rightfully deserve.”