MIDDLE of last week we had a very healthy discussion with our still unmet social media friend Marlu Villarosa on the burning national issue of the threat of some health workers to resign in mass or just simply quit their job. The move is to pressure government to meet its commitment to give the health workers additional benefits as recognition of their extra efforts to help prevent the further spread of the corona virus disease (CoViD) in the country and in treating those who have been infected by the virus that are now in millions of Filipinos.
Possibly, those who have read our column either in the hard copies of this newspaper, or in its on-line edition, would have probably noticed that our friend Marlu was strongly advocating for the government “to do the right thing.” That is, to release its financial and/or material commitment to the health workers. After all, the government could not have committed the same if it were not certain that it could find the sources for its funding.
Our position on the matter is that we were fully in accord with our friend that the additional benefits be released the soonest possible time when such release is assured of funds availability and that all the legal requirements are complied with. Our take however, is that the health workers concerned should have tempered their method of realizing their intention other than literally “hostaging” the government response to the health aspect of the pandemic. We had wished that they down their activist language that could make some mistake their scheme as manifestation of personal greed. What with so many other Filipinos suffering from hunger and deprivation due to the health emergency compared with them!
Imagine putting the response efforts against the CoViD onslaught in jeopardy if indeed they pursue their plan to abandon their responsibilities in taking care of the sick with CoViD, and in the process those who are afflicted with other illnesses! What we were intimating for tghen to adopt as an unsolicited suggestion was to defer any form of mass action while the pandemic still rages and tell government that they will have their field days of protest activities when such action will not anymore amount to killing the CoViD patients “softly” by denying them of their services.
However, as we and our friend Marlu were allowing our ideas to settle down and have some imagined conclusions in our minds, we had no inkling that during a Cabinet meeting where the President made his weekly report to the nation, he already issued an order to Health Secretary Francisco Duque to release the money and to source the funds from whatever sources that can be utilized and allowed by existing laws and audit regulations.
And to make sure that the process will not anymore be subjected to suspicion by insider or outsider government fund watchdogs, the meeting had a lady resource person from the Commission on Audit (or was she from the DBM?) to get the assurance that the mechanics in fund movement and processes in the eventual release of the funds are fully clear to all concerned officials, and even to the public. Is it not that the public is often misled by scheming critics and persons with vested interest on certain issues?
In the same meeting the President made sure that the processes apparently causing the delay in the release were not because the money intended for the health workers were pocketed by some officials or mismanaged by the DOH. Rather, he wanted it understood by the people that the delay was caused by the stringent requirements of the laws and because of the need to follow procedures.
But yes, we were in accord with our social media friend Marlu that with the health workers’ posturing and proper consultation of all concerned agencies “something good will come out of it.”
And indeed the “something good” was the President’s order to the DOH to explore all means that the additional benefits for the health workers be given them soonest. The resource person in that Cabinet meeting assured the President that the entire process of making the funds ready for release could be completed in ten (10) days since all possible areas of conflict are already identified and provided the necessary mechanisms for adjustments.
Now all eyes and ears will be on what is going to happen after the ten days waiting period. Will the health workers finally get their demands met and the money will accrue to their accounts? All well-meaning citizens are hoping for the best.
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