Opinion

So Duterte Just Declared This Cursed Year, 2020, as the ‘Year of the Filipino Health Workers’

Now, does it come with improved labor laws and hazard pay?
IMAGE JEROME ASCANO
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In case you missed it, President Rodrigo Duterte just declared the year 2020, this goddamn cursed year, as the “Year of the Filipino Health Workers.”

In a proclamation released by Malacañang Palace, this declaration is to honor the hard work of health workers during this pandemic, and to remember those “who sacrificed their lives in the line of service.”

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About 3,486 have been infected with COVID-19, and over 30 have died. Their deaths have led to an investigation of Health Secretary Francisco Duque for his notoriously poor handling of the pandemic.

“Thousands of Filipino health workers, who comprise a major component of the nation’s labor force, selflessly and tirelessly provide essential, quality and critical care to individuals, families, and groups, even in the face of great peril, fear, uncertainty, and vulnerability,” said the proclamation.

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At the time the proclamation was released, the Philippines counted 51,754 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the country, with no signs of flattening the curve. The Philippines currently has the most active cases in the Southeast Asian region, as well as one of the highest death rates in the ASEAN.

Four months into quarantine, and our cases still aren’t peaking or falling. But hey! Declaring 2020 as the year of healthcare workers might do the trick. So might the Anti-Terror Law, which was passed during the pandemic. Maybe the ABS-CBN shutdown fiasco might help lower cases too.

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Now, does the proclamation come with improved labor laws for healthcare workers? Maybe even mass testing and contact tracing? How about a big boost in hazard pay for all these doctors and nurses putting their asses on the line for all of us?

If not, at least it’s a pretty piece of paper.

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Anri Ichimura
Staff Writer, Esquire Philippines
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