By ELLSON QUISMORIO
Laguna Rep. Ruth Mariano-Hernandez has filed a bill institutionalizing entry level salaries of P85,000 a month for government doctors and P36,000 a month for government nurses as a way to strengthen the local health care system amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Health workers are essential to our public health care delivery system. This is a fact that has only been placed in the lens of national attention due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” said Hernandez, author of House Bill (HB) No. 7053.
“But in the short, medium, and long term, we can only attain quality public health care if we are able to encourage, hire, and retain health workers in our public health facilities with adequate compensation and the necessary benefits,” the lady solon underscored.
Her measure seeks to increase the salaries and benefits of health workers by amending the 28-year-old Republic Act (RA) No. 7305, also known as the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers.
HB 7053 raises the entry level salary of government medical doctors from the current Salary Grade 21 to Salary Grade 24 (P59,353 to P85,074) and the entry level salary of government nurses from the current Salary Grade 11 to Salary Grade 16 (P22,316 to P35,106).
Hernandez is also pushing for a monthly hazard allowance of P5,000 that’s exempted from income tax; subsistence allowance of not lower than P75 per meal; laundry and clothing allowance of P500 per month; rice subsidy allowance of P1,250; special longevity pay equivalent to one month basic salary for every 10 years of service; special risk allowance of at least 25 percent of the monthly basic salary; and compensation worth P100,000 for injuries or contracting any disease while performing their duty and P1 million for death in the line of duty.
The House Committee on Health vice chairperson described the current health care sector and its workers as “underfunded, under-compensated, overworked, and at the brink of being overwhelmed” because of the public health crisis.
“Our health workers at frontline public hospitals and health establishments work with among the lowest compensation, scant benefits that are not given on time, and increasingly difficult working conditions. It needs to be stressed that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed the public sector’s dearth in health workers due to the aforesaid conditions and the persistent lure of high-paying opportunities abroad,” Hernandez added.
The measure, filed last July 2, is up for first reading when the House of Representatives resumes sessions later this month.