DOH apologizes for COVID-19 volunteer health professionals’ P500 daily allowance

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 28) – The Department of Health apologized on Saturday for the P500 daily allowance given to volunteer health professionals fighting the COVID-19 disease.

Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire noted the majority of the agency’s budget is intended for buying personal protective equipment (PPE) that is used by the frontline health workers.

“Ito po ay binase namin sa allowance na binigay sa aming mga volunteers sa mga nakaraang mga outbreak response natin na ginagawa,” said Vergeire.

(Translation: We based the allowance on what we gave to our volunteers during the past outbreak responses that we did.)

Vergeire assures the Health Department is now properly allocating its additional funds, which came from the supplemental budget provided by Congress to contain the spread of COVID-19.

The agency is now prioritizing compensation for volunteer health workers in their supplemental budget, along with the procurement of more PPE and healthcare packages for the disease.

These volunteer health professionals will be assigned at Lung Center, Philippine General Hospital or Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Hospital during their 28-day engagement.

The volunteer work will have 14 days of eight-hour shifts and 14 days mandatory on-site quarantine.

Labor group Defend Jobs Philippines earlier slammed the P500 allowance for the volunteer health professionals, describing it as “nothing but an insult to our COVID-19 frontliners.”

“If the Health Department is really serious in addressing and resolving the COVID-19 pandemic then it must first and foremost take care of the welfare of our medical and non-medical professionals who are risking their lives in the frontline of the battle against coronavirus,” said Thadeus Ifurung, spokesperson of Defend Jobs Philippines in a statement.

The country reached the 1,000th mark of its number of COVID-19 cases on Saturday. There are confirmed 1,075 cases of the disease in the country, along with 68 deaths and 35 recoveries.