On Heroes' Day, health workers protest over unreleased benefits

On National Heroes' Day, Monday, August 30, health workers from different hospitals in Metro Manila staged protest actions over unreleased benefits due to medical frontliners.

"If we are heroes for you, why has it been a year now we are still here in the streets calling and shouting for the immediate release of our hard-earned COVID-19 benefits," said Edwin Pacheco, president of the National Kidney and Transplant Institute Employees Association- Alliance of Health Workers.

Pacheco said that since December 2020, there have been 51 health workers from NKTI who filed for early retirement and resigned from their positions.

"We have been demanding for mass hiring of regular health workers since the pandemic started. Even without the call for mass resignation, many from our ranks have already resigned and retired early for fear of being infected with the virus and their families," he added.

Pacheco said that "severe understaffing" has caused over fatigue of health workers.

The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) gave the Department of Health (DOH) until August 31 to release the withheld COVID-19 benefits.

"We strongly demand more actions than words. Thus, we are giving the DOH until August 31, 2021 to implement the long overdue COVID-19 benefits to health workers," said Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) president Robert Mendoza.

Aside from demanding the release of withheld benefits, health workers also called for the resignation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who has been under public condemnation due to alleged mismanagement of P67 billion worth of COVID-19 funds.

Below are some scenes from protests staged by health workers from the University of Santo Tomas Hospital, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, and St. Luke's Medical Center.

PROTEST. Healthcare workers from the UST hospital rally along España Boulevard in Manila on Monday, August 30, as they demand the immediate release of their Special Risk Allowance and other benefits under Bayanihan to Recover as One Act and the resignation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

DUQUE, RESIGN! Healthcare workers from the National Kidney and Transplant Institute hold protest action on Monday, August 30, calling for the resignation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III. Photo by Angie de Silva/Rappler

'SOBRA NA! TAMA NA!' Healthcare workers from the UST hospital rally along España Boulevard in Manila on Monday, August 30, as they demand the immediate release of their Special Risk Allowance.

WALK-OUT. Health workers from St. Lukes Medical Center in Quezon City stage a walk-out on Monday, August 30, as they ask the government to give their benefits. Rappler

– Rappler.com