SEN. Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Friday called for a special risk allowance for public health workers in recognition of the risks they face in containing the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
In a statement, Go said the government must protect the welfare of public health workers who provide critical and urgent services in response to the public health emergency, placing their own lives at risk.
He added the frontliners deserve to receive a risk allowance on top of hazard pay for their sacrifices.
Under Section 4 of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act, President Rodrigo Duterte has temporary authority to provide such an allowance to public health workers. They may refer to medical, allied medical and other necessary personnel assigned to hospitals and healthcare facilities and who are directly catering to or in contact with Covid-19 patients, persons under investigation or persons under monitoring.
If approved, Go wants national government agencies, government-owned and -controlled corporations, and local government units to be authorized to grant their respective health workers a one-time Covid-19 allowance equivalent to a percentage of their basic monthly salary.
This means that public health workers may be granted the allowance on top of the existing hazard pay they are receiving under the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers or the Covid-19 hazard pay under Administrative Order 26 (series of 2020) whichever is higher.
On Friday, Go reiterated his recommendation to the executive department for the grant of one-time “Bayanihan” financial assistance to cities and municipalities, saying this would help enhance the capabilities of local governments in responding to the needs of their constituents while the country address the Covid-19 health emergency and the socioeconomic impact that comes with it.
Citing his experience as an aide to then-Davao City mayor Duterte, Go stressed the important role of local government units to protect the welfare of their communities.
He explained that the one-time Bayanihan financial assistance for cities and municipalities could be taken from available funds or savings of the national government.
The senator added that if this proposal is granted, the funds should be used exclusively for projects, programs and activities concerning the Covid-19 situation, such as procurement of personal protective equipment for frontline service providers; medicines and vitamins; hospital equipment and supplies; disinfectants and related equipment; relief goods for low-income and vulnerable households; and tents for temporary shelter of the homeless, among others.