SENATOR Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go appealed to the Department of Health and the Department of Budget and Management to provide proper compensation for health workers who volunteer to help respond to the COVID-19 health crisis and to equip them with the much-needed tools and protection to do their jobs.
“Despite being volunteers, they are professionals. Highly skilled sila at buhay nila ang nakataya para maprotektahan ang sambayanang Pilipino. Let us use the funds available to give them proper compensation and provide them with the tools, facilities and protection they need to resolve this health crisis,” the Senator said.
Go suggested that the government can maximize volunteers by engaging them on the basis of contracts of service similar to job orders so that they can be compensated on a daily rate for a limited time period equivalent or close to the amount received by actual government-employed health workers.
“Kaya natin isinulong ang Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. Binigyan natin ng kapangyarihan ang Pangulo upang magamit ang pondo ng gobyerno para matulungan at madagdagan ang mga frontliners sa laban natin kontra COVID-19,” he said.
Go made the appeal after the DOH released on March 27 a call for “doctors, nurses, nurse assistants, hospital orderlies able, healthy and willing to commit to work in the fight against COVID-19.”
Based on Go’s recent discussion with Budget Secretary Wendel Avisado and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, they agreed that aside from allocating funds to equip health workers and enhance health facilities, it is also possible for the government to provide highly skilled volunteers with compensation that is close to the amount received by government health workers but computed on a daily rate.
“Funding should not be a problem,” Go stressed, adding that the amount may be charged against the Maintenance and Other Operating Expense of the agency according to DBM.
Go also cited that by considering them as job orders or contract of service workers, they will also be qualified to receive hazard pay in accordance with the recent memorandum of DBM. He added that on top of the hazard pay, DBM is also proposing additional risk allowance to be given to frontliners.
“Makakatanggap rin po ang qualified volunteers ng hazard pay and risk allowance kung ituring natin sila na JO at hindi volunteer lamang. Gamitin po natin ang pondo na meron tayo para ma-enganyo ang volunteers at bilang respeto rin sa kanilang propesyon,” Go explained, adding that “in this time of crisis, we need all the help we can get to defeat the virus.”
With this proposal, Go computed the possible compensation that licensed nurses, doctors or nursing graduates who wish to volunteer may receive if his recommendation is granted based on his initial discussions with DBM and DOH officials.
“Kung isa kang volunteer licensed nurse, pwedeng gawan ng paraan para makakatanggap ka ng around 1,200 pesos per day which is almost equivalent to the salary of a Nurse 1, plus 500 pesos hazard pay and perhaps another 500 pesos na risk allowance per day,” Go said.
With this example, a licensed nurse volunteer may get around 2,200 per day of duty for a duration agreed upon with DOH that will be stated in their individual contracts.
On the other hand, the rate of an entry-level licensed doctor at a DOH-run hospital is salary grade 21, equivalent to P59,353 per month. Volunteer doctors may be given a similar amount but computed on a daily basis, according to Go.
Go also suggested that if there are qualified volunteers who are nursing graduates but without work experience and are still unlicensed, they can be compensated using a lower daily rate of around 1,000 pesos per day plus hazard pay and other applicable allowances.
The DOH initially offered qualified volunteers an allowance, free food and accommodation and insurance in case they get infected with COVID-19. So far, 593 health workers already signed up to help the government control the public health emergency according to the DOH.