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Mandatory age for BHWs to be raised to 65 years old

Councilor Joselle Villafuerte talks to barangay health workers following the proposed amendments to the law on the mandatory retirement for BHW at 65 years old. Bing Gonzales

The amendments on the ordinance that will raise the mandatory retirement age of barangay health workers is now a step away from becoming a local law.

The City Council passed on second reading on Tuesday the proposal to raise the mandatory retirement age from 60 years old to 65 years old.

“We are happy that no one opposed so we can have it passed next Tuesday for the third reading,” said Councilor Mary Joselle Villafuerte, who chairs the committee on health.

In June this year, the councilor passed a separate resolution with the same intention only to realize there’s already an existing ordinance.

“When we took this up during the meeting of the local health board, it came up that there was an existing ordinance that needed to be amended that we did not know of when we passed the resolution last June,” said Villafuerte.

The amendments, she said, is for the ordinance passed in September 2015 titled “An Ordinance Granting Retirement and other Benefits to all Qualified Barangay Health Workers and Barangay Nutrition Scholars in Davao City and Providing Funds Therefor passed by the then Councilor Bernard Al-ag.

Villafuerte also said that they needed the amendments for the ordinance to jive with all the existing laws.

“For a lot of BHWs, they still feel that they are fit enough even if they already turn 60 this year. Had this amendments fail to pass, they only have until December to volunteer as BHWs,” Villafuerte said.

“Some of them still have kids that go to school, so the additional five years of getting financial remuneration from the city will be very helpful for them,” she added.

The councilor also emphasized that the BHWs aged 60 to 65 will also be assesed whether they are healthy enough and fit to work.

“As long as the City Health Office through the local health board can prove that this BHW is now unable to fulfill his or her duty, he or she may be removed,” she said.

There are about 1,140 BHW volunteers in the city and about 30 of them are aged 60.

BWH Bernadith Lutang welcomed the move as she cited the dedication of these barangay health workers.

“Given the length of our service, we are very familiar with our work already. I have served as a BHW for 26 years. I continue to serve whether we are given honorarium of not so it is really unfortunate for us to be terminated when we can still serve and we still want to serve,” said Lutang from Barangay Tugbok Proper.

She added that adjusting the mandatory age of retirement will help answer the issue on the lack of volunteer frontliner health workers in the villages.

“We lack BHW volunteers. We even hardly find dedicated volunteers from our own barangay,” she said.

“If a volunteer is physically and mentally unfit, whether she is young or old, she can be recommended to be terminated through a medical exam. But age could not be a factor,” Lutang added.

Villafuerte added that she is also working on another ordinance that will standardize the benefits for the BHW volunteers, provide them with hazard pay, subsistence allowance, and a second-grade eligibility from the civil service. Currently, each BHW gives P5,000 allowance to the volunteers.

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