Editorial: A welcome palliative

(Editorial Cartoon by John Gilbert Manantan)

SOUSED at the frontlines of this pandemic, our nurses finally get a bit of consolation. Four difficult months pass, and government eventually walks the talk after bare trumpeting of the frontliners’ heroism.

The Cebu City Government had laid out an incentive scheme as “token of gratitude” for Cebu City’s private hospital workers—it will be giving P10,000 monthly for three months.

The cash incentive will be given not only to nurses, but also doctors, medical technologists, radiological technologists, nursing aides, and staff of the following private hospitals: Chong Hua Hospital, Cebu Doctors’ University Hospital, Perpetual Succour Hospital, Cebu Velez General Hospital, Cebu Community Hospital and Adventist Miller Hospital.

This is the local government’s way to fill in the gap since the Bayanihan Act only provided for the public hospital health workers’ special allowances, leaving their private hospital counterparts demoralized.

Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella had announced over the weekend the plan to set aside a budget for such incentives.

Earlier Cebu City Councilor Eduardo Rama Jr. had proposed a resolution for a P15,000 aid for nurses handling Covid-19 cases for four months.

“I welcome the public’s sentiments and recommendations on this and urge my co-councilors and our mayor to support this resolution when filed,” Councilor Rama added.

Meanwhile, also this week, the Cebu Provincial Board approved the P1.27 billion supplemental budget, part of which will cover the hazard pay for hospital workers and other workers in the front lines. Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia certified the budget as urgent.

Part of the budget will also cover the first tranche implementation of the modified salary schedule pursuant to the Salary Standardization Law of 2019. This will now pay for the pay hikes of government health workers in district and provincial hospitals in Cebu Province.

On top of these incentives and salary adjustments, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) also emphasized that medical frontliners and allied workers are entitled to full hospitalization coverage for the whole duration of the pandemic in case they become Covid-19 patients. The agency had reminded hospitals not to charge any co-payment against frontliner patients.

These are all welcome interventions to help our medical frontliners who are in the thick of work in this health crisis. However, these are only palliatives to the sorry state of compensation for our nurses in the Philippines.

The call for review of the salary of nurses in the country must be reiterated when the “new normal” comes.


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