I'm glad, sad and mad all at the same time.
Glad because the Filipino athletes who represented the country in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics have received their monetary rewards.
And that's not just the medalists but the 15 others who competed in sports disciplines other than weightlifting and boxing, where the medals came from. Aside from the athletes themselves, the coaches of the medalists were also given rewards.
They all deserve the incentives. They worked hard, showed all they've got despite the odds and the limitations they had to work with. Hopefully, it will push them to train even harder and improve in further editions of the Summer Olympic games.
At the same time, I pray they will finally be given the support they need to truly become world-class athletes and bring more sporting honor and glory to our country.
We can excel in sports. But government and the private sector must work together to develop athletes that can compete in the global arena.
That means providing logistical and financial support so they can participate in international events to gauge how they fare against the competition. It's the only way our athletes can become the best and qualify for huge sports events like the Olympics, as well as have a fighting chance for more podium finishes.
Realistically, the Philippines does not have an overflow of resources unlike powerhouse countries like China, Japan, and the United States. So, where government throws its support is crucial to ensure its limited funds will be best utilized.
But for now, I'm just glad that all the hard work of Filipino Olympians have been recognized and they get to enjoy themselves a little.
Now, why am I sad and mad?
As our athletes are enjoying the fruits of their labor, our healthcare workers, nurses in particular, still in the frontlines risking their lives, have yet to be properly remunerated for their service.
Despite the pandemic, nurses here do not receive hazard pay. Instead, government promised them a Special Risk Allowance, (both for public and private hospitals) which under a Department of Budget circular, should amount to not more than 5,000 ($100) pesos a month.
Now, it's not a fixed amount but pro-rated based on the number of days the health worker reported for work, the cap which has also been set at 22 days. So, if they came in for more than that, those days will not be credited for SRA because the extra days will exceed 5,000 pesos.
It boggles my mind why it even has to be pro-rated when these nurses and other allied healthcare workers even go beyond the number of hours for each shift, taking in more patients and sometimes don't have days off!
No wonder these HWs don't give much weight when they're called heroes anymore because they are not treated as such. They're mostly paid a pittance compared to their sacrifices even before COVID, then any promised benefits for rendering service during the pandemic have been so delayed.
Worse, when they receive these, it's a pathetic amount that makes them weep even more.
As an example, a nurse posted that she received as SRA covering the months December 2020 to June 2021 a total of 3,863.63 pesos ($77.27). That's not even equivalent to one full month!!! Gasp. Isn't that an injustice?
Yet, when an audit was conducted of funds allocated for the pandemic under the Health department, it found that 11.7 billion pesos ($234 million) were not used! But when pressed to explain this, the Health chief said it was paid out to health workers for their SRA.
That amount wasn't enough to pay health workers? At 5,000 a month for 7 months is 35,000 pesos per HW. The unused amount should have paid 335,000 people in both the public and private sector, if indeed it was given to them.
If they wanted to pay more people, then 4,000 a month would be more welcome to recipients. But for them to receive less than 4,000 for seven months? That is CRIMINAL!
Now you get why I'm mad? And I'm not even the one who's being shortchanged!
For more than a year already, government has not put its money where its mouth is. Both for healthcare frontliners and the public, many of who have been deprived of their livelihood due to lockdowns.
While vaccine rollout has been going on, supply is still insufficient and not all systems are running efficiently. In the meantime, a more deadly variant of the coronavirus is in our midst and medical facilities are again overwhelmed, not necessarily because of room or equipment shortage, but due to lack of workers willing to keep sacrificing and risking their lives for pennies.
I wish these medical personnel would receive what is truly due them so that like our Olympic athletes they will have reason to smile amid all the sacrifice they've given for the country and its people.