Bong Go reaffirms solidarity with healthcare workers as DOH, DBM commit to swift HEA disbursement

Bong Go reaffirms solidarity with healthcare workers as DOH, DBM commit to swift HEA disbursement

SENATOR Christopher “Bong” Go reiterated his solidarity with healthcare workers and his firm commitment to help them follow up with concerned agencies the release of their pending Health Emergency Allowance (HEA) as the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, chaired by Go, conducted a public hearing on Monday, May 20.

The session marked the third hearing dedicated to look into the state of public health services in the country including addressing the release of the HEA for healthcare workers in accordance with the law.

“This Committee has been an avenue for healthcare workers in the previous hearings, and it will continue to be a platform for them to voice their concerns. To our healthcare workers, I am one with you in your call to release your much-deserved allowances,” he affirmed in his opening statement.

Go continues to advocate for the timely release of the HEA, a benefit he tirelessly supported to legislate through the Republic Act No. 11712 or the Public Health Emergency Benefits and Allowances Act. Go is one of the authors and co-sponsors of the measure in the Senate.

He highlighted the ongoing struggle of healthcare workers to receive what they have rightfully earned through services they already rendered during the state of public health emergency due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Parati kong sinasabi, sila po ang hero ng panahon ng pandemya. Pinaghirapan na po nila ito. Services rendered na po ito, dapat po ay ibigay sa kanila kung ano po ang nararapat sa kanila. Hindi na sila dapat magmakaawa para sa benepisyo na para naman po sa kanila ayon sa batas,” he passionately stated.

Go also shared poignant stories from his visits to healthcare facilities nationwide, which underscored the dire situation of many healthcare workers. His recent encounter at the Philippine Nurses Association Convention, was particularly telling.

“May mga nurses na naka-alis na po ng bansa, iyong iba po’y namatay na, hindi pa nila nakukuha ‘yung kanilang HEA. Wala ba itong katapusan? Hangga’t hindi nababayaran ang HEA nila ay hindi po tayo titigil,” he recounted, illustrating the critical and ongoing need for governmental action.

During the hearing, Go also took a moment to play a video clip, where the voices of healthcare workers could be heard clamoring for their HEA, and this poignant moment served as a direct reminder to everyone present of the urgency and human impact of the administrative delays.

“Ito pakinggan natin para makarating po sa kanila,” he urged as the room listened to the recorded pleas of the health workers chanting “HEA! HEA!” during Go’s recent engagements.

The hearing also witnessed the commitment of Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Teodoro Herbosa and Department of Budget and Management (DBM) Secretary Amenah Pangandaman to prioritize the release of the HEA immediately based on their responses to the questions of Go who asked if the matter is part of their priorities.

Reflecting on President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s State of the Nation Address, Go reiterated the administration’s commitment for the release of the HEA to qualified health workers.

“Anyway, maalala niyo po na noong SONA ni Pangulong Bongbong Marcos, na-mention niya po na isa po ito sa kanyang prayoridad, and I’m sure na tinutugunan po ito ng ating DBM,” he remarked.

Go also underscored the need to reconcile records between the DOH and DBM to expedite the process.

Meanwhile, Secretary Pangandaman provided an update on the financial aspects, reporting significant figures and progress in fund allocation and disbursement.

“Ang DBM po ay nakapag-allocate na po ng roughly PhP91.283 billion pesos that’s been released to DOH po. Out of that amount po, PhP73.261 billion po ang nailabas na po natin para sa health emergency allowance,” Pangandaman explained.

An additional PhP19.962 billion pesos has been earmarked for the current year, ensuring the government’s commitment to fulfilling its obligations to healthcare workers.

The dialogue further revealed persistent distribution challenges despite the allocation of funds. Health officials discussed strategies to overcome these hurdles, focusing on improving the effectiveness of the disbursement process.

“Ngayon, tanong ko lang. Itong sa, halimbawa itong sa BHW (barangay health workers) natin, itong mga nasa LGU, itong mga nasa private hospitals, sino ‘yung in charge sa DBM? Na-consider na ito, na-lista na ba, na-encode na ba? So payables na lang po ito?” Go asked.

In response to Go’s inquiry, Pangandaman explained the coordination efforts between the DOH and DBM, which included a meticulous listing, encoding, and ensuring that payables were prepared for disbursement.

Secretary Herbosa, in particular, acknowledged the systemic issues and budget constraints but committed to improving the distribution system.

“Sa aking eight-point agenda po, karapatan at kapakanan ng healthcare workers ang nangunguna. Alam naman natin, budget ang issue dito at ngayon lumalabas, distribution system, sistema, sabi n’yo,” Herbosa noted.

Herbosa also emphasized the shared experience during the COVID-19 pandemic, underscoring his understanding of the challenges faced by healthcare workers.

“So, ipapangako ko na ayusin natin ‘yung sistema basta nandidiyan ‘yung budget at mabigay sa lahat ng health workers… Magkasama tayo. Kasi nung COVID, kami ni Senator Bong Go, umiikot kami sa lahat ng outbreak at high risk… Magkasama tayo. Tatlong beses po akong nagka-COVID dahil d’yan. So, alam ko ‘yung pinagdaanan n’yo, pinagdaanan ko rin po yan,” Herbosa added.

Both Secretaries Pangandaman and Herbosa reiterated their commitment to resolving the payment issues, acknowledging the crucial role played by healthcare workers during the pandemic.


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