September 1, 2021, As the Philippines celebrated National Heroes Day last August 30, 2021, the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines (ICHRP) honors all the frontline health workers who continue to dedicate their lives for the Filipino people amid the ongoing pandemic in the Philippines.
“The COVID-19 crisis in the Philippines is worsening, with an all-time high record of 22,366 new positive cases on August 30 resulting in 148,594 active cases and more than 1,976,202 confirmed positive cases and 33,330 deaths,” said Mr Peter Murphy, ICHRP Global Chairperson. “Hospitals are at full capacity and health care workers are overworked and underpaid. We call them national heroes, but the Duterte government continues to ruthlessly disrespect and exploit them.”
And as if adding insult to injury, amidst the widespread poverty experienced by the Filipino people worsened by the pandemic, irregularities on the spending and allocation of billions of funds of different government agencies including the Department of Health (DOH) were exposed by the Commission on Audit (COA). The other government agencies in question were the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority, and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration.
With the 67B peso worth of questionable funds of DOH, in addition to the hundreds of billions allegedly plundered by Philippine Health Insurance Corporation officials, this further exhausts the already overwhelmed Philippine health sector. While billions of public funds have been spent or misspent or unspent, our modern day heroes, the health workers, are not given their hazard pay and other benefits due to them.
ICHRP vehemently condemns the misuse of funds and the negligence of the Duterte administration in response to the alarming rise of cases of COVID-19 in the country. The funds in question could have been used to provide economic relief to affected communities, fund mass testing, and a faster and more effective vaccination roll out, properly pay for the frontline health workers, and provide more concrete support to the health care system.
“ICHRP supports the struggle of our modern-day heroes, all Filipino frontline health workers and we support the call of the Filipino people for accountability of the Duterte administration,” concluded Mr. Murphy.