The Trade Union Congress of the Philippines on Wednesday sought out a minimum 25 percent additional remuneration as hazard pay for all COVID-19 frontline workers both in the private and the public sectors, including journalists and media personnel.
This emerged as a congressman, in a Facebook post, urged the identification of corona virus victims to boost the justification of the enhanced community quarantine imposed to contain the spread of the virus which originated from Wuhan, China.
READ: Government eyes forced quarantine
At the same time, the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) said it was set to release anew the amount of P447 million as financial assistance to 81government hospitals nationwide.
General Manager Royina M. Garma said in a statement the Board in its meeting on Tuesday approved the assistance to 81 mostly provincial hospitals, aimed at augmenting the financial capability of the beneficiary hospitals in catering to COVID-19 patients.
The financial assistance is over and above the P420 million funds to be released to Philhealth as announced last week, Garma added.
The coverage of the assistance is specifically limited to COVID-19 cases and shall be utilized for Testing Kits; Reagents; Medical / Diagnostic Equipment; Confinement; Medicines; Laboratory/Diagnostic Procedures; and Personal Protective Equipment.
Davao del Norte Rep. Alan Dujali said he had recommended to the the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID) “to help strengthen government’s efforts to curb the pandemic.”
Dujali's proposal however may not be implemented because of the stringent laws covering people's medical records.
A congressman from Central Luzon reminded Dujali that the Privacy Act ensured the anonymity of patients and protected the confidentiality of their records.
READ: Luzon in for ‘new normal‘ as post-lockdown looms
“Rep. Dujali is barking up the wrong tree in making that proposal. All it will benefit are the neighborhood chismososs and chismosas who make life more miserable for the unfortunate corona virus victims,” the legislator said.
In a statement, TUCP President Raymond Mendoza said a 25 percent hazard pay should be granted to frontline personnel from the private sector like their counterparts in the public sector who are themselves to health risks.
Mendoza said: “The virus will not choose whether the frontline personnel is from the private or the public sector.”
“Everyone is vulnerable to COVID-19 infection so those that face the daily risk of infection and brave the inconvenience of reporting to work to continue the operations of media outlets, banks, supermarkets, security, manufacturing, sanitation, food industry, delivery and trucking, and all workers reporting for duty during the Enhanced Community Quarantine period should be equally and fairly treated.
"They are all our heroes and a grant of 25 percent hazard pay is a token recognition as they too have needs and families that depend on them.”
RA 12469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act ensures a “COVID Special Risk Allowance” for government healthcare workers on top of the 25 percent hazard pay, as provided by RA 7305 or the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers.
A 25 percent hazard pay of monthly salary is guaranteed for those in Salary Grade 19 and below while 5 percent is accorded for salary grade 20 and above.
PCSO’s newly approved financial assistance will be charged to the Agency's Charity Fund under its Calamity Assistance Program budget.
Getting the biggest assistance are the Philippine General Hospital, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and Southern Philippines Medical Center with P50 Million each. Followed by the Lung Center of the Philippines with P35 Million, while Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Davao Regional Medical Center and Cagayan Valley Medical Center with P30 Million each.
“We are calling on the heads of these hospitals to also reach out to the nearest PCSO branch office in their area for the details of the assistance so that they can start planning on how to use the assistance based on the given limitations,” Garma added.
Meanwhile, the National Grid Corp. of the Philippines said it was donating P1 billion to aid medical frontliners.
In a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte, the private-run NGCP declared its support to the ongoing battle against the pandemic with P500,000,000 donation in the form of goods and medical equipment and another P500,000,000 for the procurement of the COVID-19 response measures, as maybe determined by the Office of the President.
"Through our initial coordination with their office, we were instructed to donate entirely in the form of medical equipment, with specific items such as video laryngoscopes, ventilators, total face
shields", according to official statement of NGCP by Regional Corporate Communication Officer Fely Francisco.
The P1 billion donation is over and above earlier NGCP assistance, including of personal protective equipment (PPE), face masks, meals, and other supplies for the frontline workers in the health industry and the Meals on Wheels program conducted to distribute hot meals to indigent members of the community.
In Quezon City, the Police District donated P1 million to the city government to help fight the virus spread.
Brig. Gen. Ronnie Montejo said the amount was raised by them through their program dubbed "Damayan sa QCPD," wherein a certain amount was deducted voluntarily from the monthly stipend of his personnel coming from the city government.
“We understand the plight and the situation of everyone, especially in these trying times. This is why, in our own little way, we thought of donating the cash and we hope it will help the city government in one way or another,” he said.
At the same time, the Commission onHuman Rights on Wednesday condemned the senseless acts of physical violence and discrimination against health workers during the lockdown.
In a statement, Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit said these health workers were the true unsung heroes as front liners in the fight against COVID-19.
"As the country reels from the COVID-19 pandemic, such senseless acts do nothing but endanger the right to life of our health workers who most zealously guard the right to life and health of everyone," she said.
She was reacting to the acts of five men who ganged up on a health worker while on his way home from a private hospital in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat, and threw bleach at his face.
She lamented that several health workers were also being unlawfully evicted from their residences.
She called on the government to "take special measures of protection to people in situations of vulnerability, such as our health workers, whose lives are placed at particular risk because of specific threats or pre-existing patterns of violence."