The head of the Dominican Order in the Philippines has halted the retrenchment of non-frontliner employees of the hospital being run by its top educational institution, the University of Santo Tomas (UST).

UST, in a statement, said the termination of workers, contained in a memo dated April 29, was “held in abeyance” by Fr. Napoleon Sipalay, and would be reviewed by the UST Board of Trustees in a meeting on May 20, 2020.

Sipalay, the prior provincial of the Dominicans, is also chairman of the board of trustees of UST, to which UST Hospital is attached.

“In the midst of the Covid-19, the University of Santo Tomas is one with the nation in its hope and prayer that we shall overcome this global pandemic,” the UST statement read.

In a report, the Varsitarian, UST’s student publication, said UST Hospital planned to lay off some “non-frontliner” personnel and adapt other cost-saving measures as financial losses brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic continued to balloon.

Hospital medical director Dr. Marcellus Francis Ramirez also said the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. had yet to pay more than P180 million in reimbursements, which usually took five to six months to be settled.

Ramirez said the retrenchment plan complied with all legal requirements such as a 30-day notice to affected employees and coordination with the Department of Labor and Employment. Laid-off workers will receive a 150-percent separation pay, he said. (