Leody De Guzman, presidential candidate of Partido Lakas ng Masa (PLM) and Laban ng Masa coalition, expressed his full support to healthcare workers who have called for booster shots against COVID-19 over the weekend.
“The demand of our health workers is just and true. What they need are more effective booster shots and added benefits to protect the people’s first line of defense against COVID-19,” he said in a statement.
Medical frontliners, De Guzman said, are worried about their waning protection against the coronavirus since they were among the first to be inoculated since the government rolled out its vaccine drive in March.
The funds for the booster shots of medical frontliners by the health department was slashed from P104 billion to P45 billion under the 2022 national budget that is currently being deliberated in the Senate.
“Because of the patent mismanagement of state funds by the Duterte administration, the lives and livelihood of our medical frontliners are in peril,” De Guzman said.
The Private Hospital Workers Association of the Philippines (PHWAP) earlier sounded the alarm on the exodus of nurses and other medical frontliners.
According to PHWAP, many healthcare workers are yet to receive the benefits under Bayanihan 2, such as Special Risk Allowance (SRA), Active Hazard Duty Pay (AHDP), MAT allowance, and life insurance.
“The P19.68 billion that the Lower House approved for the DOH COVID-19 response is insufficient because it is estimated that there are at least 526,000 healthcare workers in the country, all deserving decent wages and benefits,” added the veteran labor leader.
The Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino (BMP), of which De Guzman is national chairperson, said the total value of benefits amount to P16,500 per medical frontliner.
Therefore, a budget of P103 billion must be allocated for the benefits of more than half a million healthcare workers in the country, in both public and private health institutions, BMP said.
“If the Senate sleeps on the sidelines, it would repeat the errors of the 2021 budget. Our medical frontliners would again be neglected. Government must support the welfare of our health workers because the health and safety of the people is dependent on them,” De Guzman said.