Admit failure in COVID response, health workers group urges Duterte ahead of final SONA

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 21) — President Rodrigo Duterte should finally acknowledge his administration's failure in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic and taking care of medical frontliners, a group of healthcare workers said Wednesday.

Alliance of Health Workers National President Robert Mendoza said the chief executive should make this admission during his final State of the Nation Address on July 26, when he is expected to discuss the government's pandemic efforts.

"Sana aminin na niya yung kapalpakan sa pagsugpo ng COVID-19," he told CNN Philippines.

[Translation: I hope he admits his failure in stopping COVID-19.]

He cited the low salary, lack of benefits, and issues with security of tenure for medical frontliners who have been hailed by the President as modern-day heroes.

"Ang katotohanan ay hindi talaga napagbigyan o hindi talaga naibigay ni Pangulong Duterte 'yung pangangalaga para sa kalagayan ng mga health workers kasi kung sa usapin ng mga benepisyo sa Bayanihan 2, hindi talaga namin nakamtan ang kabuuang benepisyo," he told CNN Philippines. "Dinoble niya yung sahod ng kapulisan, ng mga military personnel. Sana doblehin na ang sahod ng mga health workers."

[Translation: President Duterte was not able to give proper attention to the welfare of health workers. We did not even get the full benefits under Bayanihan 2. He doubled the salary of police and military personnel. I hope he also doubles the salary of health workers.]

Bayanihan 2, the law that allocates money for critical pandemic response programs, lapsed with P18.4 billion in unspent funds. Dozens of healthcare workers rallied when the law expired on June 30, calling for the release of their allowances, special risk allowance, and hazard pay.

AHW also said the healthcare system worsened during Duterte's six-year term.