Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto called for the release of the hazard pay, regularization, and promotion of medical frontliners in the fight against the coronavirus diseases 2019 (Covid-19).

“Our health workers stand in the line of fire every day. In a workplace teeming with lethal pathogens, one mistake can be fatal. But there are no Purple Hearts for the wounded white coats,” Recto said in a statement.

Recto noted that from the 4,443 reported frontliners having “respiratory distress” on July 25, the number is up to 4,691 as of July 28.

The senator also stressed the need for better pay and promotion of medical frontliners who are battling Covid-19, saying that those who save our lives need better job security.

“In the battle of our lives, brave ones with no job security are in the front protecting us and saving lives,” Recto said.

He highlighted the fact that medical frontliners shouldn’t only have step increases, but a promotion to the next or two Salary Grades (SG) higher; that those laboring as casuals for years before getting regularized; and that academic qualification for regularization be waived for non-medical but essential hospital staff.

Recto’s Senate Bill 49, filed on July 1, 2019, proposes that nurses get four SG upgrades, lifting them from SG-11 to SG-15, with Step 1 having a salary of ₱32,053 while Step 8 receiving ₱38,801.

“Although they are in the same SG, a nurse in Step 1 category is paid almost ₱33,000 lower than what a Step 8 holder gets in a year,” Recto said.

Under the Salary Standardization Law, civil servants have two kinds of job promotions: the step-increase and the promotion to the next SG.

The government has 33 SGs with eight “steps” each, with the highest and two-step grade, SG-33, occupied by President Rodrigo Duterte. Isabel S. Macaraeg