Cebu City health officials sued by ‘unpaid’ BHWS

AROUND 100 barangay health workers (BHWs) from 17 villages in Cebu City complained that they have not received their honorarium for more than six months.

Because of the delay in the release of their honorarium, the affected BHWs filed a complaint against Cebu City Health Department officials, including City Health Officer Dr. Daisy Villa, Assistant City Health Officer Dr. Teresita Rodriguez and BHW coordinator Altea Lim before the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas on Feb. 14.

During a general assembly at the Barangay Apas Gym on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, BHWs of the 17 villages asked Cebu City North District Rep. Raul del Mar to intervene in their behalf so that the Cebu City Health Department (CCHD) would release their pay.

Cherlien Monte, head of the BHWs, said the CCHD’s excuse for not releasing their honorarium was their failure to submit some requirements like the profiling of barangay residents.

“That’s how they justified the non-release of our honorarium since we didn’t achieve the target they wanted,” she said in Cebuano.

The CCHD reportedly requires them to profile all barangay residents.

“They compute profiling as per profiling sheet and is not based on the population of the barangay. Since they are computing the population of the barangay, they must also compute the population that is included in each profiling sheet,” Monte said in a mix of Cebuano and English.

Monte said she and her fellow BHWs questioned the profiling requirement, especially since the CCHD ordered them to no longer go on the field as this task was turned over to health workers the City hired.

The CCHD’s new policies for appointed BHWs like the complainants and City-hired health workers were set during a meeting in August.

Mira Lyn Castillo, vice president of the BHWs association in Cebu City, said they already submitted the barangay profiling last June.

Castillo said the CCHD has been pressuring them to submit a new barangay profiling record from the month of July to December 2019 using a new profiling format.

But Castillo questioned the need to submit a new barangay profiling record when they could update the one they submitted before.

The BHWs said that in the previous administration, only a daily time record and accomplishment reports were required for their honorarium to be released.

They were shocked why the CCHD did not release their honorarium considering that Labella signed the list of appointed BHWs in June last year.

Labella’s signature on the list of appointed BHWs indicated that the City authorized them to start serving from the month of July to December, Castillo added.

During last Saturday’s assembly, Representative del Mar told the BHWs they should have resolved the matter amicably rather than filing the complaint.

He also advised the BHWs to seek an audience with Labella for their concerns to be addressed.

Aside from del Mar, Pit-os Barangay Captain Nilo Tariman, Bonbon Barangay Councilor Claudia Cabriana, Apas Barangay Councilor Allan Ybanez, T. Padilla Barangay Councilor Ricardo Ledesma and Labangon Barangay Captain Victor Buendia also attended the assembly.

Meanwhile, Labella directed Villa to release the honorarium as soon as the BHWs fulfilled all the requirements.

He assured the BHWs that they would get paid as soon as they submitted the requirements.

Villa, in a separate interview, said she will answer the BHWs’ complaints at the right forum, which is the anti-graft office.

She refused to give further comment on the issue. (Mae Fhel Gom-os, USJ-R Journalism Intern)