Nagkaisa tells gov’t: Don’t ignore frontliners’ call for respite

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The Nagkaisa Labor Coalition on Sunday said the government should not ignore the call of health workers for a time out in their duties in the COVID-19 frontlines.

(JANSEN ROMERO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Nagkaisa chairman Sonny Matula said such call must not be ignored as it was not simply the health workers’ demand for a rest day but more as a “mayday call” to save the country’s exhausted healthcare system.  

“They are the experts and frontliners that our country cannot afford to lose in this war against the COVID-19. Their exhaustion is our concern. Their lives are as important as the many lives they save,” he said in a statement.

And as essential workers and experts in the medical field, Matula said their opinion outweighs that of others as far as re-strategizing the country’s pandemic approach is concerned.

He said Nagkaisa! has been calling for the same when they campaigned for #Balik-Trabahong Ligtas since May. 

“Part of this campaign was our call for the government and employers to provide PCR-based testing to returning workers as opposed to rapid test promoted by Joey Concepcion’s Project Ark; safe transportation or accommodation; provision of adequate hazard pay, and strict observance to minimum health protocols including compliance to Occupational Safety and Health standards in the workplace,” said Matula.

“We also called for active hiring of additional health workers as regular hires in the civil service as opposed to Department of Health’s passive invitation for volunteers,” he added.

Matula said they insisted then that without putting those measures in place, the possibility of more infection was a sure thing to happen once the economy re-opens. 

“Our concerns proved prophetic as companies in ecozones started shutting down due to COVID-19 outbreaks,” he said.

“And the worst-case scenario that we also have imagined is for our healthcare system to suffer what experts and frontliners have sadly conveyed,” added Matula.

He said Nagkaisa! is calling on the government to listen and address this urgent demand by medical frontliners for a timeout.

“This include a corresponding call for social amelioration if there can be no alternative measure to find other than placing the National  Capital Region (NCR) back to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ),” Matula said.

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