President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. on Thursday said the benefits given to Filipino nurses were not enough as he praised their contributions to the country amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a speech during the 100th-anniversary celebration of the Philippine Nurses Association, the president lamented that the government could not yet give nurses more benefits due to budget issues,

“Please know… Sa palagay ko kulang pa ‘yan e. Medyo hirap tayo sa pondo ngayon kaya’t sa ngayon ganyan lang muna. Pero palagay ko — binubuhay niyo ‘yung may sakit e. Ibang usapan ‘yan…mahirap lagyan ng balor, ng dolyar, ng piso ‘yung trabahong ginagawa ninyo,” he said.

As of Aug. 19, the government has disbursed a total of P25.82-billion worth of benefits to healthcare workers, Marcos Jr. said.

These include hazard duty pay; Covid-19 sickness and death compensation; meals, accommodation and transportation allowances; life insurance; special risk allowance; and the one Covid-19 allowance.

“The government recognizes and acknowledges your hard work and sacrifice, including risking your own health and lives to care for others. As your president, you may rest assured that my office is always open for meaningful dialogue to address the issues concerning our nurses and allied healthcare professionals,” he said.

The president also said the country would open more slots for the deployment of nurses abroad and improve domestic opportunities for Filipinos.

“I believe that together we have the ability, we have the strength to improve our nurses’ welfare and build on the Filipino distinction of excellence and competitiveness in the global health community,” he said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro