Presidential aspirant Vice President Leni Robredo took the cudgels for Filipino health workers by emphasizing that the government must pursue their regularization and provide additional support.
“We will ensure that the regularization of our health is prioritized. A lot of our health workers are job orders. They are not regularized even as they perform essential work,” Robredo said.
Robredo said exempting healthcare workers from the Personnel Salary Cap will encourage them to remain in the country instead of seeking opportunities abroad for more competitive salaries.
She added that frontliners should receive in full all the benefits under the Magna Carta for Health Workers and in a timely manner.
“Those who take care of us when we are sick, especially now that we are in the middle of a pandemic, should also be taken care of and protected by the government,” Robredo said.
She said she will push for more benefits for healthcare workers “through executive action,” such as free regular COVID testing, paid COVID sick leaves, and transportation and meal allowances.
Since the pandemic started in 2020, Robredo and the Office of the Vice President (OVP) worked to answer the needs of both healthcare workers and patients.
Through the Angat Buhay program and its partners, the OVP opened free dorms and free shuttle services for frontliners, among others.
The OVP’s free pandemic response programs for the public include the Swab Cab which offers COVID-19 antigen testing, Vaccine Express that provides COVID-19 vaccination to communities, and the Bayanihan E-Konsulta, a teleconsultation platform.
In a forum with the Financial Executives Institute of the Philippines (FINEX), Robredo said the government should implement more programs to address the pandemic and strengthen our healthcare system, as the global health crisis enters its third year.
“Best practices around the world already show us an effective containment strategy: aggressive testing, integrated mobility databases for tracing, strengthening the capacities of our healthcare system for us to be able to provide the treatment required,” she said.
Robredo explained that effective treatment means capacitating hospitals and frontliners with what they need, including support, to hold the line. She added that bed capacity in hospitals “should be addressed so that the country reaches a more responsive hospital bed to population ratio.”