Members of the Ugnayan ng Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng University of Santo Tomas Hospital (UNM-USTH) stage a noise barrage on Monday, Sept. 1 to protest the slow disbursement of their health emergency allowance.

EMPLOYEES of the UST Hospital staged a noise barrage in protest of the delayed disbursement of their health emergency allowance (HEA) on Monday, Sept. 11.

Members of the Ugnayan ng mga Nagkakaisang Manggagawa ng University of Santo Tomas Hospital (UNM-USTH) said the Department of Health (DOH) and the Department of Budget and Management had yet to distribute 11 months’ worth of HEAs.

“We don’t need to protest on the streets every day just to get our allowances,” UNM-USTH chair Ronald Ignacio told the Varsitarian. “As we’ve said, we, healthcare workers are not supposed to be on the streets. We’re supposed to be in the hospital, doing what we do best.”

In April 2022, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11712, which entitled healthcare workers to mandatory benefits and allowances during the Covid-19 pandemic and other public health emergencies.

The monthly health emergency stipends were intended to vary depending on the risk level of the area, with P3,000 allocated for employees in low-risk regions, P6,000 for those in medium-risk regions, and P9,000 for workers in high-risk regions.

Ignacio, an emergency room nurse at the UST Hospital, said that out of the 25 months of HEA coverage, only 14 months’ worth of allowances were provided to UST Hospital employees in June.

These allowances were distributed only after they protested, he said.

“From what we have observed, only those who make noise and fight were given the HEA, which should not be the case,” Ignacio, who is also the spokesperson of the United Private Hospital Unions of the Philippines, said.

The DOH in August said it had disbursed P46.4 billion in HEAs, while P15.2 billion had yet to be released.

The health department plans to complete the distribution of the allowances this year, Health Undersecretary Enrique Tayag said in an August briefing.

The UST Hospital protests, according to Ignacio, will continue “as long as it takes.”

“As long as the DOH and the DBM do not heed our grievances and call to release the remaining HEA of UST Hospital [workers],” he said. Mabel Anne B. Cardinez with reports from Logan Kal-El M. Zapanta


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