Filipino health workers given spotlight on National Heroes’ Day, but where’s their extra pay?

August 30, 2021 - 9:27 PM
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A health worker wears personal protective equipment (PPE) prior to conducting swab tests in a household where coronavirus disease (COVID-19) positive cases have been recorded, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, April 20, 2021. (Reuters/Lisa Marie David)

Health care workers posted photos of them online as the country celebrated National Heroes’ Day on Monday, August 26.

Actor Luis Manzano made this request through Twitter as a way of saying thanks for their hard work during the pandemic.

“Hi frontliners! Post niyo naman pictures niyo o di kaya if may kamaganak kayo na frontlinera, post niyo pic nila sa comments!” Manzano wrote.

“We appreciate you and salamat sa inyo,” he added with heart emojis.

The comments section was soon filled with smiling photos of health workers on duty in hospitals, clinics and other facilities in the country.

“Post ko lang po mga Frontliners po ng Bauan General Hospital, kasama po dyan ang First cousin ko po, proud na proud po kami sa kanilang lahat, kahit pagod na pagod sila walang tigil sila sa kakatrabaho para sa mga pasyente,” one user said with heart emojis.

While most photos were taken in the Philippines, a few snapshots also showed health workers overseas.

Other Filipinos also raised the flag for other workers on the front lines of the pandemic.

“To our health care workers, essential and economic frontliners, teachers, those in public service, overseas workers, we honor you on National Heroes Day,” wrote Bianca Gonzales.

“Salute to the people who’s in the front lines, our modern day heroes. We will never forget how you all lent yourselves to serve and single handedly lift our country despite this apathetic regime. Thank you po!” another user said.

The celebration of National Heroes Day was enacted into law through Act No. 3827 on October 28, 1931.

10-day protests for hazard pay

Groups of health workers, meanwhile, commemorated National Heroes’ Day through mass action to demand their promised benefits from the government.

Videos and photos of health care workers from different health facilities such as the National Kidney Transplant Institute, the St. Luke’s Medical Center and the University of Santo Tomas were reported on social media.

This was part of the 10-day countdown movement the Filipino Nurses United and other organizations of health care workers started on August 23 for the release of their still-delayed special risk allowance or SRA.

They have been holding street protests in different parts of Metro Manila since last week. This countdown is expected to end on September 1.

The Department of Health previously stated that it will use the P311 million from its contingency fund to be allocated to the health workers’ SRA.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire noted that they have already identified at least 20,156 private and public HCWs who will receive these benefits.

“This is not yet final because we have to wait for the lists submitted to our regional health office. This P311 million can be sourced from our contingency fund to which the Department of Budget and Management already asked approval from the Office of the President,” she said.

There’s no update on whether the SRAs have already been released as of press time.