TikTok video highlights low wage, other woes of medical workers in Philippines

August 25, 2020 - 6:20 PM
This March 18, 2020 photo shows a nurse pleading for a ride amid the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon. (The STAR/Edd Gumban)

A TikTok video that featured the sacrifices and woes of health workers in the country amid the novel coronavirus pandemic recently circulated online.

This reached social media personality Mimiyuuuh who was heartbroken about it.

On August 25, the popular YouTube vlogger retweeted another influencer Mark Geronimo, who shared the TikTok video clip that featured a medical frontliner  dancing to the hit song “Kabet” by Gagong Rapper.

In the video, the COVID-19 frontliner wearing personal protective equipment compared the salary of medical workers in the Philippines and abroad.

The TikTok user named Jazzmin Comaling shared that the health workers in the United Kingdom and the United States earn at least P114,000 and P200,000 per month, respectively.

In general, they also receive hazard pay and other benefits aside from their monthly income.

Such higher offers from other countries encouraged many Filipinos to leave the country, which consequently leaves local hospitals and health centers understaffed.

Geronimo in the main tweet expressed his gratitude and respect to all medical frontliners who stayed in the Philippines and are helping the country cope with the worsening health crisis.

“I have no words, ang lungkot nung version na ito, just pure respect to all our medical frontliners. This video says it all grabe, they deserve so much better. Laban lang po tayo ma’am, stay safe!” he said.

Mimiyuuuh likewise sympathized with the health workers.

“It really hurts,” Mimiyuuuh wrote on Twitter.

The vlogger’s sentiments were echoed by her fans in the comments section.

“Mas mainam siguro na umalis sila ng bansa kasi sobrang baba ng sweldo dito sa ‘Pinas tapos wala man lang pakialam ang gubyerno sakanila. Madami din silang pamilya na umaasa sakanila kaya sympre kahit sino naman, mas gugustuhin na mag abroad para guminhawa ang buhay,” the user wrote.

“At the end of the day, hindi mapapakain ng ‘fake glorification’ ang mga pamilya nila. Maayos na pasweldo at benepisyo ang kailangan nila,” another user said.

DOH’s questionable volunteerism

This video clip came days after Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said he was disappointed that only 25 health workers signed up for the Department of Health’s emergency hiring program.

Last April, the DOH released Memorandum No. 2020-0153 that stated the guidelines in the emergency of health personnel in selected hospitals and health facilities across the country as part of the government’s ramp up efforts against COVID-19.

Based on the memorandum, the hired health worker is entitled to a monthly salary with a 20% premium based on the basic salary, a hazard “pay” of P500 per day, protective personal equipment, medico-legal assistance, hospitalization benefits and other allowances.

Because of the handful of applications received, Duque called for more volunteer health workers, particularly those who were previously unable to travel overseas due to the deployment ban during the strict lockdown measures.

“I appeal to the sense of nationalism, the sense of patriotism of every healthcare worker,” Duque said in an online forum on August 22.

The embattled chief also asked them to be “selfless” in times of crisis despite the long shifts they had endured helping patients since last March.

“Let us change our mindset in this pandemic and maybe let’s be selfless. It’s not going to be easy anytime soon. It’s going to be more difficult, but we just have to live with it,” Duque said.

During the last press briefing, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque likewise stated that Filipinos are “nationalistic” enough to stay and work here instead of returning overseas.

Such remarks did not sit well with Jocelyn Andamo, secretary-general of the Filipino Nurses United, who expressed how deeply hurt she was with them.

“Napakasakit po na marinig ang ganun na parang kami ay hindi nationalist o patriotic sa panahon ng pandemya. Dekada na po ang mga nurses ay naglilingkod sa ating pamayanan at sa ating mga ospital,” Andamo said in a radio interview.

“Napabayaan na po kami sa maraming paraan: napakababang sahod, hindi makataong work conditions—matagal na po kaming naglilingkod sa ating mamamayan,” she added.

Last March, the DOH also sought for volunteer health workers to be assigned to the three COVID-19 referral hospitals for a month.

Such a proposal, however, drew outrage from the public who questioned why the health agency did not offer to compensate them for the risks of acquiring the highly contagious coronavirus.