February 25, 2024

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House panel approves Magna Carta for Barangay Health Workers

Photo: Casiguran Municipal Information Office

The House of Representatives Committee on Ways and Means on Monday, December 5 approved the tax provisions of the substitute bill consolidating proposed measures for the magna carta of barangay health workers (BHWs).

Recognizing the “heroic role” of barangay health workers during the Covid-19 pandemic, the unnumbered substitute bill, which was referred by the mother committee, the House Committee on Local Government which aims to provide protection to BHWs, as well as open opportunities for career growth.

“The contribution of our barangay health workers in the delivery of basic health services at the committee level, specifically primary healthcare can’t be overemphasized. We are all witness to their heroic role along with health professionals,” a sponsorship message read

“It must be emphasized that the benefits and incentives that our BHWs have been receiving for the longest time pursuant to the present law, that is Republic Act 7883, (do) not contribute so much to their well-being or welfare. It is not at all sufficient for their basic needs yet the great majority of our BHWs serve well with utmost dedication in their respective communities,” it also read.

The proposed measure that seeks to professionalize the role of BHWs in the promotion of primary health care through programs, trainings, and scholarships, and also provides for a more defined role of the BHWs within the framework of the Universal Health Care.

The chair of the House Ways and Means, lamented that BHWs are underestimated even though residents know them better than their barangay captains. He also has a message for barangay chiefs, citing that only 286,000 BHWs are listed nationwide when in his own hometown of Albay, he already supports some 6,800 BHWs.

“The only way for you to have zero maternal mortality, zero infant mortality, zero child mortality under the SDG (sustainable development goals) is through the BHW,” he stressed, adding that the importance of BHWs is the reason he agreed to the tax provisions “despite being a fiscal hawk.”

The substitute bill consolidated the following House Bills (HBs):

67, 101, 301, 378, 450, 461, 513, 588, 741, 1109, 1182, 1408, 1438, 1546, 1547, 1577, 1589, 1670, 1732, 1780, 1829, 1841, 1922, 1967, 1968, 1989, 2059, 2125, 2307, 2352, 2470, 2594, 2739, 2835, 3277, 3317, 3338, 3389, 3446, 3510, 3534, 3646, 4101, 4130, 4134, 4736, 4836, 4905, and 5058, or “Providing for the Magna Carta of Barangay Health Workers.”

These proposed measures were authored by Rep. Jose Francisco Benitez, Deputy Speakers Vincent Franco ‘Duke’ Frasco and Ralph Recto, Reps. Luis Raymund ‘LRay’ Villafuerte Jr., Maria Rachel Arenas, Jeffrey Soriano, Juan Carlos ‘Arjo’ Atayde, Ramon Jolo Revilla III, Marlyn Primicias-Agabas, Julienne Baronda, Eddiebong Plaza, Christian Tell Yap, Keith Micah Tan, Jose Ma. Zubiri Jr., Olga ‘Ara’ Kho, Yedda Marie Romualdez, Maximo Dalog Jr., Johnny Ty Pimentel, Ray Florence Reyes, Wilter Palma, Alfred Delos Santos, Adrian Jay Advincula, Antonio Legarda Jr., Joseph Stephen Paduano, Franciso Paulo Ortega, Rosemarie Panotes, Rufus Rodriguez, JC Abalos, Reynante Arrogancia, Laarni Lavin Roque, Marie Bernadette Escudero, Christopher De Venecia, Edwin Olivarez, Romeo Acop, Oscar Malapitan, Lianda Bolilia, Lorenz Defensor, Harris Christopher Ongchuan, and Gus Tambunting.

According to HB 450, the measure “aims to provide free education and training programs for our barangay health workers, in addition to their entitlement to additional compensation and incentives.”

“Apart from granting due recognition to the incomparable services rendered by the BHWs, this proposed measure also seeks to encourage more healthcare workers to render their service in their own country, which would positively effectuate to at par healthcare programs of our government,” the bill’s explanatory note said.