President Rodrigo Roa Duterte on Thursday, January 6 called on doctors and nurses undergoing internship to help the government contain the rising number of coronavirus infections, pledging increased hazard pay among other benefits.
With the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, President Duterte said in his weekly public address that the government has to look at the worst-case scenario and convert facilities into extension hospitals and deploy additional medical workers.
“’Yung ano, doktor, ‘yung magga-graduate na mag — ‘yung naghihintay na ng results ng ano o basta ‘yung tapos na?” he said in proposing to field more volunteers.
“Maybe they can help this country, their country, his country, her country, by volunteering to assist us kung ginusto lang nila. Tutal they have the knowledge of how to protect themselves, at least the barest minimum that they can do to protect them.”
And for those who are entertaining the idea of serving as volunteers, the President vowed to raise the amount of incentives for them, pointing out that frontliners deserve to be “given more” considering the risk they face everyday.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who was also present in the meeting, said the health department’s existing volunteer program may benefit from the hazard duty pay hike apart from the special risk allowance and other incentives that are currently being provided.
The present payments and incentives can be used as a “benchmark” for new incentive policies particularly for post-graduate nursing interns who are interested to volunteer in government’s COVID fight while awaiting board exam results, the health chief noted.
“So ito pong mga post-graduate interns, we can actually come up with a compensation kasi habang wala pa ‘yung kanilang board exam results, puwede naman po silang magtrabaho, mag-volunteer. But we can incentivize by giving them a certain amount. We will have to determine that,” he said.
“Five thousand pesos is a pittance that will not really attract or properly incentivize these volunteers considering the risk that they will face. So a much higher amount is in order,” he added.
Meanwhile, as the nation grapples with the spiking number of infections obviously driven by the more transmissible Omicron variant, President Duterte said all sincere intentions to help the Filipino people are welcome, calling even the New People’s Army (NPA) to send their medical personnel to volunteer.
“Iyong mga nurses nasa NPA, nag-NPA, marami kayo. Then magbaba kayo, I assure you if you give us an advance in notice that you are going down to participate in this — the people who are offering their services, tutal magbayad man ako, magtulong kayo,” he said, assuring the rebels that they can safely return to their respective units once everything stabilizes.
“Pero kung pababain ko kayo because magtulong kayo, eh okay masyado. Pagkatapos niyan magkape pa tayo dito sa aking opisina so that you would — makita ninyo ‘yung palasyo ng tao,” he said.
The Department of Health logged 17,220 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 2,888,917, with 2,780, 613 recoveries and 51,743 deaths. PND