MANILA – Health Secretary Dr. Paulyn Ubial said her department would fully respect the right of health workers to air grievances if they join the rally in Luneta Park during the National Day of Protest on Thursday.

"That's their right. We just hope they will promote peace," Ubial said in her reply to a text message sent by this reporter.

At least two groups of health workers have said they would join the mass action to be staged by various groups on the 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law by the late President Ferdinand Marcos.

In a previous interview, Robert Mendoza, president of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), said they are set to participate in the protest rally as they are alarmed by deaths linked to the government’s intensified campaign against illegal drugs.

He also lamented that more than a year has passed since President Rodrigo Duterte has assumed office but he has not fulfilled his campaign promise to end contractualization, which he noted is rampant in the health care sector.

Many health workers, he said, lack security of tenure aside from being overworked and underpaid.

"We hope that President Rodrigo Duterte will listen to the cries of Filipino professionals. Most of them voted and heavily campaigned for him. We hope that the Duterte government reciprocates the sacrifices and contributions of Filipino professionals in nation building and progress," the AHW stated in its cover photo in its official Facebook account.

Meanwhile, the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD) will also join the rally with the message, "Heal, not kill!"

In a Facebook post, HEAD secretary general Dr. Joseph Carabeo said they will march for justice to seek the implementation of stringent measures to protect health workers from being killed and harassed as they perform their duties.

He cited the death of six doctors to the barrios this year - Dreyfuss Perlas of Lanao del Norte, Jaja Sinolinding of Cotabato, George Repique of Cavite, a doctor from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), another from Tarlac, and the latest victim, Dr. Vicente Soco, provincial health officer of Dinagat Island, who was killed by a gunman on a motorcycle.

All these remain unresolved, Carabeo said. (PNA)