A bill seeking to elevate barangay health workers (BHWs) from volunteer status to government workers was filed Tuesday in Congress.
Former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, Taguig Rep. Lani Cayetano, and their allies are proposing to require local government units (LGUs) to hire and compensate BHWs as job order, casual, contractual, or regular employees.
The Cayetanos proposed the bill to Congress, along with Camarines Sur 2nd District Rep. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte, Jr., Batangas 2nd District Rep. Raneo Abu, Laguna 1st District Rep. Dan Fernandez, Bulacan 1st District Rep. Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado, and ANAKALUSUGAN Party-list Rep. Michael Defensor.
“As frontliners of our Primary Healthcare System, our Barangay Health workers must be given sufficient incentives, benefits, and most of all, just compensation for all the hard work they have done for us,” the bill’s explanatory note read.
“The goal of improving the Primary Healthcare System necessarily carries with it the responsibility of taking care and supporting those in charge of implementing the same,” it adds.
The proposed measure will also establish the Special Barangay Health Workers Assistance Program under the Department of Health. The program will provide additional financial and technical assistance, training, and other forms of support to BHWs of selected local government units.
BHWs currently receive allowances for their work as volunteers, but the bill seeks to increase their compensation that will be sourced from the additional funds that local government units will receive upon the implementation of the Supreme Court’s Mandanas-Garcia ruling.
The ruling has clarified that custom duties and several other taxes should be included in the just share of local government units in the collection of national taxes. It is expected to increase the internal revenue allotment of local government units next year.
“Therefore, there’s an additional source of funds for the salaries and benefits of Barangay Health Workers who tirelessly sacrificed for their community, especially during this pandemic,” the proposed bill’s explanatory note said.
The Cayetanos have been advocating for additional incentives for BHWs in recent years.
In their home districts in Taguig, all 819 of its BHWs have been hired by the local government units as either job orders or casual employees.
BHWs working for the city receive monthly salaries ranging from P7,900 to P11,000, as well as performance incentive bonuses, overtime pay, and hazard pay.
Barangay frontliners are also included in the list of priority beneficiaries in House Bill No. 8597 or the 10K Ayuda Bill, which Cayetano and his group filed on February 1, 2021.
The bill aims to provide P10,000 in cash aid to every Filipino family, especially the poorest of the poor, amidst the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.