“Some doctors are reportedly not being paid and are just being told to “just be heroes.”

First, the good news.

Anticipating a possible shortage of medical workers as the number of COVID-19 infected persons rises, Senator Francis “Tol” Tolentino has, for weeks been calling on the Department of Health to deploy the graduates of medical schools in the Philippines and authorize them for a limited practice of medicine, even if they have not yet taken their licensure examination.

According to the lawmaker, doing so would only be in consonance with Sec. 12 of Republic Act No. 2382 or the Medical Act of 1959, as amended. Said law provides that “certificates of registration shall not be required of…medical students who have completed the first four years of medical course, graduates of medicine and registered nurses who may be given limited and special authorization by the secretary of health to render medical services during epidemics or national emergencies xxx.”

After all, these medical school graduates have already taken half of their Physician Licensure Examination last March 8 and 9. They were not, however, able to take the exam on March 15 and 16 owing to the community quarantine.

Furthermore, Tolentino says these fresh graduates have already finished one year of their medical internship and have obtained their diplomas. Thus, they are equipped to support our health care workers in the public hospitals and that they shall be a big help to our fight against the pandemic. 

His pleas have been answered. The other day, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases allowed 1,500 new medical graduates to be given special authorization as doctors and to be deployed to the public hospitals in the battle against the Covid-19.

Now, we have some fresh reinforcement to our medical workforce. I hope we won’t lose any more on the Covid-19 battlefront.

DOH under fire

Now, for the bad news.  

The DOH came under fire again yesterday after Maristela Abenojar, president of the group Filipino Nurses United claimed healthcare workers and nurses being called on by the agency to assist in the battle against Covid-19, were being made to sign a waiver the DOH would not be responsible should they contract the disease even while in the performance of their duties

Abenojar said there is actually no shortage of nurses as there are about 200,000 unemployed nurses who can be tapped as additional manpower, as long as the government offers them just benefits and salaries and security of tenure, not as volunteers. Unfortunately, Abenojar claimed that instead of this, they are asked to sign a waiver.

“When they are offered volunteerism scheme, it deprives them of their basic right to just compensation and benefits,” Abenojar says. 

“This is why we want them to be hired, hired with security of tenure.”

Of course, Health Secretary Francisco Duque, who always finds ways to sabotage efforts to combat the disease (non-disclosure or late disclosure of information on the first COVID-19 patient in the country, refusal to grant approval to Marikina City test lab, blocking LGUs and even the national government from acquiring rapid test kits although he was eventually overruled by the President himself), denies the allegations.

This however, does not prevent the IATF or any other government body from investigating him. And I hope they do the soonest possible time.

Doctors to resign en mass

Now, for worst news.

We got information from a very reliable source that resident doctors from the Quezon City Medical Center are threatening to resign en masse.

If the nurses cited by Abenojar are given measly compensation and are made to sign a waiver absolving the DOH of any responsibility should they contract COVID-19, some of the doctors in QCMC, which is owned and managed by the Quezon City Government, are virtually being paid nothing despite the grave danger to their lives.

According to the document provided by the source to this writer, only a handful of QCMC doctors are in the hospital’s plantilla and who are thus entitled to full wages and benefits.

Level 3 Resident Doctos are paid P57,805 in basic salary, P2,000 in PERA, P1,500 in Subsistence Allowance, P150 Laundry Allowance and Hazard Pay of P7,514.65. After withholding taxes of P18,017.22, they get a net monthly salary of P50,952.43. 

Not all Level 3 Resident Doctors earn this much. Some only receive P21,000 without any other benefits. The same goes for the Level 2 Resident Doctors who receive the same P21,000 basic pay with no benefits.

But for the Level 1 Resident Doctors? They should be receiving social amelioration package and relief goods as they reportedly are not being paid a single centavo by the Quezon City Government. The sad thing is, when they confronted the Human Resource Department of QCMC, according to the source, they were simply told to render work in the spirit of Bayanihan.

 “Just be heroes,” they were supposedly told.

 This is no way to treat our heroes — our frontliners. They form the backbone of our battle against this dreaded virus. We have to give them respect and reward them for their work even as no amount of money could compensate their efforts and their lives they have been putting at risk.

And for once, Mayor Joy Belmonte, don’t go around telling us this is another fake news item. Do something and attend to their needs. (ia/SovereignPH.com)

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