Duterte approves MAT benefits to health workers in cash equivalents

Qualified healthcare workers may now receive their meals, accommodation, and transportation (MAT) benefits in the form of cash equivalents.

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go announced on Thursday that President Rodrigo Duterte has already approved the provision of MAT benefits for 423,314 HCWs, in cash equivalents of around P3,500 per month.

As Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, Go earlier urged the executive to provide immediate applicable benefits to health workers in the most convenient and efficient way possible.

MAT benefits for health workers

"Mahirap maging healthcare worker lalo na sa panahon ngayon. Hindi basta-basta ang trabaho nila kaya dapat natin ibigay 'yung dapat ibigay na mga allowances na nararapat sa kanila bilang mga frontliners," Go urged.

"Napakaliit na halaga ito para sa kanilang serbisyo sa ating mga kababayan. Sila ang isinabak natin sa giyerang ito kaya dapat hindi natin sila pabayaan," stressed Go.

Notably, the Department of Health was instrumental in requesting the Office of the President for the monetization of MAT benefits, heeding the clamor of the healthcare workers. Go supported and pushed for the proposal saying, "kung ano ang pinaka-makakatulong at maginhawa sa kanila, iyon ang ibigay natin."

"Ako naman, ipaglalaban ko ang ating mga frontliners sa kahit anong paraan, bilang Senate Committee Chair on Health. Ipaglaban ko what is due o kung ano dapat na ibigay sa kanilang lahat," he pledged.

To ensure that all HCWs are properly compensated, Senator Go has been pushing for the immediate passage of Senate Bill No. 2421, which he authored and co-sponsored, to provide a fixed monthly allowance for HCWs during the ongoing state of emergency due to the pandemic.

The measure takes into consideration an earlier bill that Go filed and provides a COVID-19 Risk Allowance in lieu of the special risk allowance (SRA) and other financial compensation granted under the Bayanihan 2.

"Lahat naman ng healthcare workers na naka-duty ay maituturing na exposed sa banta ng COVID-19. Hindi nakikita ang kalaban na ito kung kaya't mahirap paghiwalayin pa kung sino ang exposed at sino ang hindi," explained Go.

"Kaya ako umaapela na maging flexible tayo sa pag-iimplementa ng nakasaad sa batas at kung kakayanin ng pondo ay bigyan na ang lahat ng qualified ng fixed na amount ng SRA kaysa bilangin pa natin ang kanilang pag-duty bawat araw," he added.

In 2019, the lawmaker was instrumental in the enactment of Republic Act No. 11466 or the "Salary Standardization Law 5". The measure gives all civilian government employees, including nurses, increased salaries broken down in tranches.

In the same year, he also ensured that enough funding was allotted for the implementation of the 2019 Supreme Court decision that upheld Section 32 of the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002, which sets the minimum salary grade of the Nurse I position at SG-15. (via Senate)

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