Dispatch from Crame No. 771: Sen. Leila M. de Lima on the alleged waiver releasing DOH from responsibility should volunteers contract COVID-19


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When the DOH callously asked health workers to volunteer their services and risk their lives in exchange for ₱500 a day, the people resoundingly reacted, saying heroes deserve better than that.

When Malacañang said that health workers who die in service can be interred at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, people questioned the government’s false equivalence between a tragic death in the line of duty and an act of heroism. NO FRONTLINER SHOULD DIE IN DUTY. We should not be talking about burials but rather the proper equipment and support they need to save lives.

Alalahanin natin na ang ambag ng mga frontline healthworkers ay ang pagligtas sa mga buhay, hindi ang walang saysay na pagsasapanganib sa kanilang buhay. Hindi nila kailangang mamatay para maituring na bayani.

Words are cheap. A government that praises our healthworkers while failing to provide the most basic of support for their welfare is as useless as the voice of reason in Mr. Duterte’s mind.

At hindi lang doon matatapos ang kawalang-galang ng gobyerno sa kanila. There are now allegations that the volunteer medical personnel are required to sign waivers which release the DOH from any liability should these workers contract COVID-19 while in service.

This is an unfathomable callousness. It should not have been an issue in the first place if the DOH did its job to fill up the thousands of vacant plantilla positions by hiring these health workers outright and granting them the proper salary and benefits as mandated by law. Instead they chose to lowball the very people who have the necessary qualifications and competence to fight this pandemic head-on.

The slow government response to help our healthcare workers led to some of them having to use garbage bags as makeshift PPEs. The private sector and VP Leni had to step in to extend them the much needed assistance.

We have one of the worst levels of infection and mortality rate for our healthcare professionals. 21 doctors have died of COVID-19 related illness. Deaths that would have been prevented if our government had been mindful of their needs.

Nananawagan ako na ipadama naman natin ang tunay na pagpapahalaga sa ating mga frontline health workers. Marapat lamang na sila’y mabigyan ng tamang kabayaran at proteksyon para sa kanilang serbisyo.

Our healthcare workers should receive nothing less than just compensation, hazard pay, continuous supply of PPEs, health and life insurance, and most of all our respect and admiration. We are at war to save lives, not lose them. Proper work demands proper compensation, protection, and regard. Anything less is injustice. ###

(Access the handwritten copy of Dispatch from Crame No. 771 here, https://issuu.com/senatorleilam.delima/docs/dispatch_no._771)

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