ILOILO — Nine thousand five hundred eight volunteer health workers declared their support to Liberal Party’s standard-bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and running mate Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo during their 16th Provincial Congress held at Iloilo Sports Complex on Thursday.
Their president, Merlyn Figueroa of Dingle, believed that the administration’s ticket has the political will to fully implement the provisions of Republic Act 7883 or the Barangay Health Workers’ Benefits and Incentives Act of 1995 once elected.
“We will support them because they are true public servants. They are pro-poor, honest and capable. Under their leadership, we can see a better life for people like us,” said Figueroa, who devoted her life to community work for the past six years.
Under Republic Act 7883, barangay health workers in rural and urban areas are entitled to hazard and subsistence allowance yet not all of these benefits are granted by the local government units, according to Figueroa.
It also provided for training, education and career enrichment programs through the Department of Health and Department of Education.
“The law is not fully implemented. We need leaders like Mar and Leni to make it happen,” she stressed.
She also revealed that most of them become “victims of politics” every time there is a change in leadership in the barangay.
In response, Robredo said they now lobbying for the passage of House Bill 6387 or the Barangay Reform Act in the House of Representatives.
“This bill has been consulted with DBM and DILG. It is still pending and we hoped to pass it before the 16th Congress closes otherwise we will go back to square one,” Robredo said.
The proposed law seeks to nationalize the honorarium of one barangay health worker and 20 peacekeeping volunteers in each barangay in the country.
It also provides for capacity building programs to empower barangay officials and volunteers on the effective implementation of various social programs.
The measure will likewise change the term limits of barangay officials from three years with a three consecutive term limit to five years with two consecutive term limit.
House bills such as this deserve the support of Congress, according to Governor Arthur Defensor Sr., a former majority floor leader of 14th Congress.
“Similar bills have been filed before but it did not materialize. I hope this time it will push through,” Defensor said.
Meanwhile, Judy Araneta-Roxas offered to provide capacity development trainings to the barangay health workers through Gerry Roxas Foundation.
The matriarch of the Roxas family also grabbed the opportunity to distribute first-aid kits for the barangay health workers.
Aside from Robredo and Roxas, also present during the Provincial BHW Congress were Quezon City 3rd District Representative Jorge “Bolet” Banal, Iloilo 1St District Representative Richard Garin and 3rd District Representative Arthur Defensor Jr. JAN