CEBU City Mayor Edgardo Labella has asked the City Council to allocate funds for 1,800 nurses, doctors and other healthcare practitioners working in private hospitals in the city as cash incentives for joining the fight against Covid-19.
Labella directed the Local Finance Committee and Cebu City Councilor Raymond Alvin Garcia, chairman of the committee on budget and finance, to allocate a budget for the release of monthly allowances for healthcare workers tapped by the government to augment the workforce of private hospitals in the city.
Labella said the cash incentives will amount to P10,000 a month for three months.
In a press conference on July 3, 2020, Labella said the list of beneficiaries would include private nurses, doctors, medical technologists, radiologic technologists and respiratory therapists.
The doctors and nurses were deployed to Chong hua hospitals, Cebu Doctors’ University hospital, Perpetual Succour hospital, Velez hospital, H.W. Miller Memorial Sanitarium and hospital, and Cebu Community hospital, he said.
“I am asking our Vice Mayor (Michael Rama) and our City Councilors, let us provide incentives to our healthcare workers.
We know the risk they are facing in our battle against the unseen enemy,” Labella said.
The cash incentives would be given in addition to the salaries already received by the healthcare workers from the private hospitals where they had been deployed.
Labella said the move is meant “to boost the morale” of private doctors and nurses who are paid less compared to their counterparts working in government.
Labella said the funds amounting to about P54 million may be sourced from Supplemental Budget (SB) No. 2.
However, should this budget not be enough, another supplemental budget may be passed, he said.
The second supplemental budget of the City, approved by the City Council in March, amounted to P1 billion.
Out of the P1 billion, P500 million went to the purchase of relief goods for the city’s residents, while P400 million was used to procure personal protective equipment and other consumables.
Garcia said the P100 million funds remaining from the SB 2, originally intended for Covid-19 recovery efforts, could be realigned to respond to the mayor’s call.
Garcia said the budget for the recovery program was supposed to be used in providing loans to small and micro businesses to help them recover from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
For his part, Cebu City Councilor eduardo Rama Jr. said he will file a resolution urging Labella to provide P15,000 financial aid monthly in the next four months for nurses responding to Covid-19 patients in Covid-designated hospitals in the city.
“Our healthcare workers are overworked and many have considered resigning, while some already have,” said Rama.
“Our medical frontliners are essential and instrumental in this battle, and the lack of nurses could significantly affect the capacity of our healthcare system in fighting this pandemic,” Rama added.
Joseph Stephen Descallar, Philippine Nurses Association (PNA)-Cebu Chapter president, said while PNA recognizes the Cebu City Government’s effort in boosting the morale of health care workers especially nurses in private hospitals, clear guidelines must be set so that the cash incentives do not only benefit a few chosen private hospitals.
“We continue to appeal to our government and private hospital administrators to consider the salaries of our nurses and may this financial support not be only for three months,” Descallar said.
Employees Compensation Program
Meanwhile, frontline workers from the private and public sectors who have contracted Covid-19 during the course of their work will reportedly receive aid from the government.
The assurance was made by the employees’ Compensation Commission (eCC), an attached agency of the Department of Labor and employment, under its employees’ Compensation Program (eCP).
Frontline workers include healthcare workers, government workers, protective service workers like the uniformed personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police, cashiers and crew members of groceries and stores providing essential goods and products, production and food processing workers, janitors and maintenance workers, and truck drivers involved in the transport of essential goods, among others.
In a press statement, Ingrid Yumang of the eCC-Regional extension Unit 7 said there is a package of benefits for public and private sector employees and their families under the ECP in the event of work-connected sickness or injury resulting in disability or death.
She further explained that the eCP benefits provided to workers
who contracted the coronavirus by reason of their employment or working environment would include loss of income benefits, medical benefits and cash assistance.
In case of death due to the virus, the funeral benefit would amount to P30,000 plus death benefits, which will be given to the family of the affected employee.
“As for medical reimbursement, we cannot estimate how much it will be since it is the SSS (Social Security System) for the private sector and the GSIS (Government Service Insurance System) for the government sector that will be doing or processing that, being the eCC’s administering agencies,” she said.
For approved sickness or injuries, affected workers will receive P10,000 in cash assistance and P15,000 for those who died.
The application for eC Benefits, she said, will be done at the SSS for private sector employees and at the GSIS for those working in government.
All circumstances will be evaluated thoroughly with the help of a doctor. Queries on the eC Benefits could be sent through private message at the eCC Cebu Facebook account.
The eCC ReU 7 could also be reached at (032) 266-7230 or at its website at ecc.gov.ph. (WBS, PR)