Medtechs hired for tri-city rapid testing not paid yet

LOCAL officials of the cities of Cebu and Mandaue assured medical technologists (MTs) they hired for the mass rapid diagnostic testing that they will facilitate their payment as soon as possible.

This after some MTs hired for the job complained that they have not received their P13,000 payment even after the end of the mass rapid testing last May 21, 2020.

Around 93 MTs were hired by Project Balik Buhay (PBB) to conduct testing in the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu starting May 6.

The testing was supposed to end on May 15, but it was extended for another three days to give the three cities enough time to reach their targets, which was to test at least 10 percent of the total population.

Ernest James Tiu Materum, one of the MTs assigned in Cebu City, told SunStar Cebu they were supposed to receive P13,000 after the service they rendered.

Aside from Materum, 44 MTs were assigned in Cebu City.

Materum said they learned of the work after their organization, the Philippine Association of Medical Technologists (PAMET)-Cebu Chapter, began recruiting MTs to work during the rapid mass testing.

The same organization was tapped by the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas (Opav), Department of Health (DOH) Central Visayas and the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu to look for 93 registered MTs for the 10-day strategized testing.

Hired MTs were to receive P1,000 per day, with P500 serving as honorarium and P500 as hazard pay, and personal protective equipment (PPE).

“We kept on doing follow-ups, but they only told us to wait until next week, and on the following week, we were told to wait for another week,” Materum said.

The qualified MTs were gathered at the DOH 7 office on May 5 for an orientation and during the meeting, they were told that the local government units would shoulder their pay, said Materum.

Materum said there was no contract signed when they started the work. They only sent an application to the email address indicated on the post provided by the Cebu City government, and the confirmation that they were accepted was through text message.

During the 13-day work, they only needed to submit a daily time record to the DOH, he said.

Materum added that some of their colleagues in Mandaue City were also experiencing the same problem.

Upon learning of the situation, Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella said he would fast-track the release of their payment.

He also invited the concerned MTs to go to his office at the executive building in Cebu City Hall on Monday, June 15.

Separately, Cebu City Administrator Floro Casas Jr. said one reason why payment for the MTs was delayed was state auditing regulations.

In Mandaue City, local officials said they are still in the process of preparing the payroll for their MTs.

Lawyer John Eddu Ibañez, the executive secretary of Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes, said an agreement signing to facilitate the payment of the MTs was supposed to be held last Thursday, June 11.

But fire struck the second floor of the Mandaue City Hall at dawn of June 11, so regular work and services were postponed. (JJL, KFD)