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The Philippine Magna Carta of Barangay Health Workers is advancing to its first official reading. A pivotal step that signals a renewed push for legislation aimed at enhancing the welfare of hundreds of thousands of community care workers. This development has garnered positive reactions from the sector’s workers and their advocates. 

“For a long time, BHWs have been waiting for someone to help us fight for our rights. Many have made promises, but all have fallen short,” stated Myrna Gaite, President of the BHW National Capital Regional Federation, which is part of the UNI Global Union. “We extend our gratitude to the people who have shown genuine compassion and concern for us, such as Rep. Angelica Natash.” Echoing Gaite’s sentiments, Rajendra Acharya, the Regional Secretary of UNI Global Union Asia & Pacific, strongly supported the bill: “The passage of this bill will not only be a monumental victory for BHWs in the Philippines but also serve as an inspiration for care workers globally. We wholeheartedly join the call on the Philippine Senate to endorse this legislation.”

The Magna Carta of Barangay Health Workers is landmark legislation that seeks to protect the welfare and interests of hundreds-of-thousands-of Filipino Barangay Health Workers (BHW). The bill was approved on the third and final reading last December 12, 2022 through the efforts of BHW Party list Representative Angelica Natasha Co as the principal author of the bill in the House of Representatives.

The Senate Committee on Health and joint with the Committees on Local Government, Ways and Means, and Finance held a technical working group meeting last March 11 to consolidate the 17 versions of the Magna Carta present in the Senate. After years of dormancy, this concerted effort resulted in the bill advancing to its first reading.

Roland de la Cruz, President of UNI Global Union Philippines Liaison Council, emphasized that these developments signify a significant stride forward in safeguarding the welfare and well-being of our dedicated community care workers. “In a time where the demands and challenges faced by healthcare workers are unprecedented, this decisive move not only demonstrates a commitment to accountability and transparency but also underscores a profound respect and appreciation for the invaluable contributions made by our BHWs.”

 Barangay Health Workers provide community care to millions in the country – including first aid, maternal, neonatal and child health, and community-based interventions including immunizations. There are currently around hundreds of thousands BHWs but with the growing population of Filipinos at over 117 million, the current number of BHWs is much too low to provide adequate attention to the healthcare needs of Filipinos. It also exposes the BHWs to fatigue and illnesses. The Magna Carta of Barangay Health Workers bill aims to provide BHWs with comprehensive and improved benefits, which is a significant improvement from conditions outlined in previous legislation. Among the benefits to be provided are hazard allowances, transportation allowances, subsistence allowances, one-time retirement cash incentives, health benefits, insurance coverage, vacation and maternity leave benefits, cash bonuses, disability pay, and conferring Civil Service Eligibility for BHWs who have rendered at least five years of continued service.

Parallel to this legislative push, a spotlight has been cast on the delayed Health Emergency Allowance (HEA) payments, a critical financial support meant for BHWs amid health crises. In response, BHW Party-list Representative Angelica Natasha Co convened with key health officials to dissect and address the bottlenecks preventing these crucial funds from reaching the hands of BHWs.

This legislation is backed by UNI Global Union through Together We Care, a groundbreaking initiative to enhance women’s economic security by fostering a skilled, empowered workforce in the health and care sectors supported by USAID, the Ford Foundation and the CARE Fund.



UNI Asia & Pacific