Officials say lack of manpower for COVID-19 response already resolved

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Puerto Princesa officials said they have addressed the major manpower concerns that were previously crippling the city’s response to the surge of COVID-19 cases.

Councilor Roy Ventura explained in an interview Wednesday, May 26, that he has met with concerned offices on the issue that was brought up by a city nurse who spoke to the City Council on Monday in their regular session.

“Katatapos lang ng meeting kanina, nandoon human resources office at budget office, natugunan na mga sinabi niyang [Cayen Cabiguen] kulang. Napunuan na, almost 48 nurses and midwives ang na-hire as contractual [workers]. Ang [sahod] ay kukunin sa supplemental budget na na-aprubahan na,” said Ventura.

Cabiguen, a nurse who works at the city Incident Management Team (IMT), wrote a viral Facebook post about her experience caring for COVID-19 patients in a quarantine facility. She wrote about having to work despite already being sick simply because there was no one else to relieve her from her duties. She also explained that salaries were not a problem, but the immense workload was already overwhelming.

Ventura added that while nurses’ positions are now full, the next challenge is to hire new doctors. City officials have admitted previously that hiring new health workers to care for various classifications of patients is difficult because applicants do not want to put their family members in danger.

Councilor Peter “Jimbo” Maristela also said in a separate interview on the same day that applicants are not motivated by the high salaries being offered to them by the city government.

“Bago siya sumulat, or saktong noong sinulat niya, nagkataon na inaprubahan na namin ang P363-million na supplemental budget para sa additional na manpower. Pero ang problema kasi, ayon sa mga doktor natin sa City Health [Office], although may mga vacant positions, hesistant naman silang mag-apply. Sabi nga ni Ms. Cabiguen, ang net [pay] niya umaabot nga ng P30,000 mahigit. Mataas na nga, pero hesitant sila,” said Maristela.

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