By Raymund Antonio
Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo is pushing for a regular salary scheme for barangay health workers and nutrition scholars, describing it as an “important first step” towards addressing the country’s problem on hunger and malnutrition.
Speaking at a recent seminar series of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST), Robredo lamented health workers and nutrition scholars are often “overworked and grossly underpaid.”
“Marami po kaming katrabaho [na gaya nila] na sila ang nangangalaga ng mga malnourished children, pero sila rin ang number one na nangangailangan. Inuuna ang pinagsisilbihan kaysa mga pamilya [nila],” she said.
“Ito ay important first step sana na iyong mga nangangalaga, dapat sila ang unang alagaan,” the Vice President added.
Under the law, health workers only get hazard and subsistence allowances, career-enrichment opportunities and free legal services.
On the other hand, nutrition scholars only receive a modest monthly traveling allowance from the National Nutrition Council, which oversees the initiative.
The amount of the allowance depends on the financial capability of the local government units.
Robredo, a former housing chief, recalled during her term as Camarines Sur representative, she authored House Bill No. 6443, or “An Act Strengthening the Barangays Through Support for Barangay Officials and Volunteer Workers.”
The measure proposed an honorarium of at least P500 for volunteer workers in communities, including health workers. It also sought PhilHealth coverage for them, as well as trainings and workshops “on how to effectively exercise their duty.”
The bill, however, was not passed under the 16th Congress.
The Vice President said she has asked several lawmakers to refile the measure.
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