PHILIPPINES: Health workers of various organizations staged a walk-out protest outside the Department of Health (DOH) headquarters in Manila on September 1. Protesters condemned the DOH and the Duterte government’s failure in releasing their benefits and risk allowances.
The groups converged from different points in Metro Manila and assembled at the DOH gate where they air their demands. Tagging the date as “National Day of Protest”. Among the issues include are the long-delayed grant of Special Risk Allowance and Hazard Pay, the P67.323 billion anomalous spending for COVID-19 response fund, the 15-billion PhilHealth Scam, expired medicines as per COA report, the poor COVID-19 response, and the P11.9-billion unused funds.
Protesters led by Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) marched to the DOH in their PPEs and hospital uniforms, carrying placards and setting off a noise barrage out of tin cans and empty pots.
AHW National President Robert Mendoza expressed his indignation as to the unaddressed basic problems confronting health workers since the pandemic started.
An August 31 deadline was set by the workers for DOH to grant their long-awaited risk allowances which remained unreleased. Benjamin Santos, AHW Secretary General, added that the call for the grant of allowances is also about the fight for justice.
Aside from health workers, the public has been in clamor for the Secretary’s ouster. People blasts his failure, gross negligence and incompetence in handling the pandemic. To worsen things are the billion-peso procurement anomalies the Secretary has been embroiled into.
Health workers had vowed to continue the struggle until Sec. Duque steps down. They believe Sec. Duque is no longer fit to lead the DOH especially in these difficult times. The groups also demand for his full accountability and liability.
Health workers are considered new heroes. They have been serving with extreme dedication in this pandemic war. And they are now faced with an added burden in the fight for their own welfare.