Barangay health workers among the health personnel who administer vaccines to villagers in Samal town, Bataan province. (File photo by Ernie Esconde)

MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. is elated over the passage of House Bill (HB) 6557 or the Magna Carta of Barangay Health Workers (BHWs) in the lower chamber, saying this is the start of efforts to better compensate them.

In a press release, Malacañang said Marcos welcomed the passage of one of his administration’s priority bills on the third and final reading at the House of Representatives on Dec. 12 last year and expressed optimism it would also hurdle the Senate.

“I’m also happy to say, I was with the PLLO [Presidential Legislative Liaison Office] yesterday and kasama na doon sa napasa na na mga batas ay isa doon was the Magna Carta for Barangay Health Workers. Kaya’t malaking bagay ‘yan, (I'm also happy to say, I was with the PLLO yesterday and among the laws that have already been passed, one of them was the Magna Carta for Barangay Health Workers. So that's a big deal),” Marcos said in a meeting in Malacañang.

Recalling his own experience as former governor of Ilocos Norte province, Marcos said nobody could argue over the important role played by BHWs, especially during calamities or disasters.

He said BHWs played a major role at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, providing services, conducting house-to-house visits, and deciding who among the population had to be sent to hospitals and isolation facilities.

He underscored that BHWs are also an important source of information for the national government in its policy decisions due to their presence on the ground.

…Para naman magkaroon kami ng magandang decision sa national level ay kailangan pa rin namin ng tulong ng BHW (In order for us to make a good decision at the national level, we still need the help of BHW),” Marcos said.

“I do not know how the government will function without the barangay health workers, without the lupon, without the daycare center workers, lahat ng volunteer workers natin. ‘Yun ang inaasahan talaga ng pamahalaan (“I do not know how the government will function without the barangay health workers, without the council, without the daycare center workers, and all our volunteer workers. They are the ones the government can really rely on)," the President said, adding that these volunteers really help bring the government services to the people.

Marcos likewise remains hopeful that the passage of the Magna Carta for BHWs in the lower house and eventually in the upper chamber would be the “beginning” of what the national government can do to recognize the barangay health workers for their hard work.

He also expects that “there will be no opposition to the bill because of the importance of health workers’ work.”

“We cannot do this without you. Please keep up the good work. And the government and most importantly, our people, are counting on you,” he said.

HB 6557 seeks to provide allowances and other benefits as incentives to barangay health workers for their loyal service.

BHWs are persons who have undergone training programs under any accredited government and non-government organization and who voluntarily render primary health care services in the community after having been accredited to function as such by the local health board in accordance with the guidelines promulgated by the Department of Health. (PNA)