MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration will make sure that all front-line health care workers would receive their hazard pay and other benefits due them, Malacañang said on Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque gave the assurance, as he apologized for the supposed delay in the release of hazard pay for medical front-liners.

Paumanhin po. Pero hindi po tumatalikod ang administrasyon ni Presidente Duterte. Ibibigay at ibibigay po ang lahat ng benepisyo na dapat tanggapin ng ating mga bagong bayani, ang ating medical front-liners (We apologize. But the administration of President Duterte will not renege on its promise. All benefits that our new heroes, our medical front-liners, should receive will be given to them),” Roque said in a virtual presser.

He made the statement after several medical front-liners celebrated National Health Workers’ Day on May 7 by staging a protest action due to the supposed low wages and delay in the release of benefits more than a year since the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) hit the country.

Roque assured health care workers that the government is doing its best to ensure the unhampered distribution of their hazard pay.

Bagama’t mayroong mga ilang mga nagmamartsa para kunin ang kanilang mga benepisyo na tama lang naman po at kabahagi iyan ng kanilang kalayaan ng malayang pananalita, ang gobyerno naman po, by and large, ibinibigay ang dapat na ibigay sa mga medical front-liners natin (While there are some who hold rallies to get their benefits, which is just right because it is part of free speech, the government, by and large, is giving what should be given to our medical front-liners),” he said.

Roque said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has guaranteed that the funds that remain unspent under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, otherwise known as Bayanihan 1, would be earmarked for the health workers’ hazard pay.

Sinabi po niya (Duque) na iyong balanse na hindi nairi-release sa Bayanihan, na parang PHP1.3 billion, lahat po iyan ay ilalaan nila sa mga receivables ng mga front-liners by way of hazard pay at iba pang mga benepisyo na hindi natatanggap ng ilan sa kanila (He said the balance that has yet to be released under Bayanihan 1, which is about PHP1.3 billion, would be channeled to the front-liners’ receivables by way of hazard pay and other benefits that some of them have yet to receive),” he said.

In November last year, Duterte inked Administrative Order (AO) 35 authorizing the grant of active hazard pay of up to PHP3,000 per month to human resources for health (HRHs).

Front-line HRHs refer to medical, allied medical, and other personnel in the public sector who are involved in the national health care response to mitigate Covid-19 transmission and prevent further loss of lives.

Duterte also signed AO 36, which grants Covid-19 special risk allowance (SRA) of up to PHP5,000 per month to private and public health works with direct exposure to Covid-19 patients.

The Covid-19 SRA will be in addition to any hazard pay, hazardous duty pay, hazard allowance, and similar benefits under existing laws, issuances, rules and regulations, and shall be exempt from income tax. (PNA