Healthcare workers now have more reasons to be optimistic if Vice President Leni Robredo is elected President in the 2022 national elections after the Presidential candidate unveiled her Kalayaan sa COVID Plan.
During a recent virtual round table discussion organized by the volunteer group Team Leni Robredo (TLR), St. Luke’s Medical Center Employees Association (SLMCEA) Political Action Committee, and Bayanihan E-Konsulta and Doctors for Leni volunteers welcomed the comprehensive and inclusive COVID-19 plan of VP Robredo, as it underscores better wages for medical frontliners, full implementation of the Universal Healthcare Act, and capacitating hospitals, among others.
SLMCEA lamented that health workers from private and public hospitals are still begging the current administration to release their benefits, such as the Special Risk Allowance (SRA), despite their being on the frontlines in the country’s battle against the coronavirus pandemic.
Under Republic Act No. 11494 or the “Bayanihan to Recover As One Act,” the SRA is only given to “all public and private health workers directly catering or in contact with COVID-19 patients.” However, the SLMCEA contends that all health workers should receive the SRA since dealing with COVID-19 patients requires team effort.
“The plight of many of our health workers continues as the current administration fails to heed our plea for the release of our benefits. Until now, we are still fighting for the release of benefits that Bayanihan Act II promised. They keep on making promises but nothing really happened,” SLMCEA Political Action Committee Chairman Roland Endino pointed out.
Hearing VP Robredo’s COVID plan for the first time, the group expressed optimism that the Vice President would be true to her word and fight for the release of benefits of all health workers should she win the 2022 presidential race.
“Umaasa pa rin naman ang mga health workers na mabigyan sila ng pansin. Hindi lang naman isa ang nag-aaruga sa isang pasyente. Isang team yan na nagtatrabaho sa ospital,” Endino said.
Pangasinan-based nephrologist and Doctors for Leni member Dr. Carlo Trinidad said what struck him the most in the Kalayaan sa COVID-19 plan is the provision of taking care of the health workers, which the current administration has neglected.
Echoing the sentiments of Endino, Dr. Trinidad revealed that most health workers feel that they have been neglected by the government despite their contributions in the country’s fight against the dreaded disease.
“Ang tanong ngayon, kung ang tagapag-alaga ang nagkasakit, sino ang mag-aalaga sa kanila?” he asked. “Para sa isang health worker, ang hirap magkasakit. Kulang na nga tayo na nag-aalaga sa pasyente. Kapag ikaw ay dumagdag at naging pasyente ka din, kulang na lalo ang mag-aalaga sa mga kababayan natin.”
Aside from giving utmost priority to the vulnerable health workers, Dr. Trinidad also noted that the Kalayaan sa COVID plan of VP Robredo tackles short, medium, and long term goals – a plan that goes beyond after the pandemic.
Dr. RJ Naguit, a mental health advocate, noted that the Kalayaan sa COVID plan is shaped by VP Robredo’s long-standing work with different sectors and her first-hand experience in handling the pandemic, such as the implementation of Bayanihan E-Konsulta, Swab Cab.
“Kung titignan mo yung plano, hindi lang siya nakatuon sa health care system. Merong issues na na-touch ang labor and food security. So, makikita mo talaga yung perspective na holistic when it comes to the plan,” Dr. Naguit pointed out.