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Senator Joel Villanueva on Friday scored the Department of Health (DOH) for its emergency hiring program which offers terms that are “worse than ‘endo’” as the pandemic is anticipated to last until next year.

The chair of the Senate labor committee said he has been writing the DOH since May to improve the terms of its emergency hiring for healthcare workers to ensure the salary and benefits of healthcare workers are commensurate to the risk they face due to Covid-19.

“Masahol pa po sa Endo ang ginagawa ng DOH sa ating mga healthcare heroes,” Villanueva said referring to the informal practice of terminating a worker’s contract before the sixth month to circumvent labor laws on providing security of tenure.

“Napakababa po ng kanilang sweldo, hanggang 3-6 na buwan lamang ang kanilang kontrata at walang kasiguruhan sa trabaho; wala rin silang sapat na benepisyo at proteksyon lalo na ngayong panahon ng pandemya,” he said.

“Hindi po makatarungan ito para sa ating mga healthcare workers na nagbubuwis ng kanilang buhay upang mangalaga sa mga may sakit, lalo na ang mga COVID-19 patients. Let’s give what is due to our health workers,” the senator said in a statement.

Villanueva reiterated that DOH should offer better contract terms such as extending the duration to a year, as the President placed the country under a State of Calamity due to the pandemic until September 2021.

The lawmaker enjoined the health department to use all available funds at their disposal as he lamented that DOH has an unobligated budget of about P70 billion, or some 55 percent of its P158.7 billion allotment from its current and continuing appropriations, according to the budget department data as of October 9.

On top of this, the DOH received P13.5 billion from the Bayanihan 2 to support its emergency hiring program for healthcare workers to beef up its pandemic response.

Of the target 10,693 openings, the department hired 8,056 healthcare workers as of September.

Villanueva also pointed out that DOH has 14,553 unfilled positions, or nearly 20 percent of its 77,010 total authorized positions.

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