By John Noel E. Herrera
The issue on the delayed salary and benefits of some workers of the Western Visayas Sanitarium and General Hospital (WVSGH) in Santa Barbara, Iloilo appears to be an internal problem after WVSGH chief Dr. Judy Ann Dumayas blamed two key hospital staff for their woes.
In a committee hearing conducted by the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Iloilo on Tuesday, Jan 17, 2023, Dumayas blamed hospital accountant Condrad Sorongon and budget officer Gervill Guartero for the delays in the salaries and benefits of contract of service (CoS) workers.
Dumayas noted that funds were already allocated for the CoS personnel, but the processing of contracts and certification of availability of funds were always delayed, which is part of the accountant’s work.
The WVSGH chief added that only the 172 CoS workers, including 38 nurses and four medical doctors, were not able to receive their salaries on time, while all plantilla personnel with permanent positions received their pays and other benefits without delays.
She also explained that the budget for plantilla employees is provided by the national government through the DOH, while the income of CoS workers depends on the hospital’s generated income.
Daily Guardian is still trying to get the side of Sorongon and Guartero.
Iloilo 4th district board member Rolando Distura, on the other hand, questioned the management of the hospital as to why they let these people (referring to Sorongon and Guartero) still work, knowing that the complaints against them started in 2014 yet.
“Why did you allow such things nga he seems to be very powerful sa inyo? Kay ti may level sa organizational chart and being the chief, you are the head, tapos daw mas taas pa sila sa inyo. Karon nga tatlo na ka bulan wala ma-sweldohan nga may funding man gali pero isa lang ka-tao ang hindi, ti hindi na pwede, you take them out of there,” Distura stressed.
“We empathize on the situation and the bottom line here is our constituents, the people that we serve, and it is not that nice and good that you are washing your dirty linen in public as a government institution and affected ang aton nga serbisyo. Paano ka mabilis (mag-serbisyo) sina sa mga tao kay wala ka sweldo kay ako ya gapati nga equal work for equal pay.” he added.
The SP also recommended the immediate intervention of the Department of Health (DOH)-6 for the immediate reassignment of Sorongon and Guartero.
The DOH-6 also assured that the issues were already being taken care of “internally” as the regional office is waiting for orders for a fact-finding investigation that will be sent by the central office.
Iloilo 2nd district Rep. Mike Gorriceta earlier sent a letter to the DOH central office and said that the investigation team from the health department might arrive on January 23, 2023 to investigate the said complaints of some employees against the management of the hospital in Santa Barbara, Iloilo, and will demand a change of leadership in the facility if the problem won’t be resolved.
He had also urged DOH-6 regional director Adriano P. Suba-an to look into WVSGH’s services, the management, and regulations as he has been receiving complaints as early as the second quarter of 2022.
“If these concerns continue without intervention, the health care delivery system and the hospital’s services would be greatly compromised, most specifically for the people who are relying on its services. If these persist, we cannot fully achieve the patient services and offer the advanced health goals that we are eyeing to reach,” he previously said.
It is noted that the said issues caught the attention of the public after Mia Arguelles, former operating room nurse at WVSGH posted on her Facebook account the silent protest of 20 CoS workers about their delayed salaries and benefits.
“Salaries have been delayed for decades (every 3 months gaabot) but until now, two days before Christmas eve, our November salaries haven’t been given yet. Allowances that have been promised to us haven’t seen the light of day and no one is giving statements about those, too. Not to mention the fact that all the hospital equipment and facilities have been broken for a long time (meaning ang obra namon is ang budlay pagid tapat because of broken elevators, broken light bulbs, burnt outlets),” part of the post read.
“Yes I am scared that I may lose my job for doing this but I am more scared of the fact that a lot of our peers can’t procure their basic needs because no one is fighting for us or should I say are already tired of fighting for benefits we ACTUALLY EARNED,” it added.
Arguelles also said that the hospital laid off 22 CoS employees, including her, despite the fact that her performance evaluation scale was “outstanding”.
The WVSGH management earlier explained that the rehiring of the CoS workers was assessed based on their performance ratings, which Arguelles also questioned since she got an “excellent” rating.