MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday reported PHP15.7 billion worth of benefits for health care workers have been disbursed as of November 26.
The data are based on the latest, reconciled figures reflected in the Statement of Allotment, Obligation and Balances.
Included are PHP7,915,760,434 Special Risk Allowance (SRA) of 486,585 health care workers from Dec. 20, 2020 to June 30, 2021; and PHP6,555,957,185 SRA and active hazard duty pay (AHPD) released last year for 315,652 and 390,662 health care workers, respectively.
Additionally, meals, accommodation, and transportation (MAT) benefits worth PHP1,231,098,680 were also received by 103,413 workers.
“The Department is committed to recognizing the important contribution of our health care workers in the fight against Covid-19, hence we aim to provide them with the compensation and benefits they deserve as stated in Republic Act 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act. We are continuously coordinating with local government units to fast-track the disbursement of remaining SRA funds to eligible health care workers for the period Dec. 20, 2020 to June 30, 2020,'' Administration and Financial Management head, DOH Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega, said in a statement.
The DOH added that pending requests for additional SRA funds for Batches 5 and 6 shall be evaluated by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) once the previous batches have been fully disbursed.
The DOH clarified that under Bayanihan 2, the provision of MAT benefits was for the convenience of health care workers and to protect their families who are at risk of contracting Covid-19 as they travel from their homes to health facilities.
“We wanted to keep their families safe, to prevent health care workers from potentially infecting their family members at home by providing MAT,” Vega explained.
As these benefits were originally intended to be provided in-kind or as actual services, health facilities that were not able to disburse the money for such purposes, have opted to return unspent funds to the DOH before the year ended, to prevent reversion of funds to the Treasury.
The funds, in turn, were used by the DOH to support other requirements for the pandemic response.
Recognizing that a number of health care workers have not been able to receive the MAT benefits, the DOH is continuously working with DBM and the Office of the President to secure funding and appropriate authority to provide them retroactively.
The DOH further explained that health care worker benefits have certain limitations as to their scope and coverage period.
In the case of the AHDP, it can no longer be granted beyond Dec. 19, 2020 while the grant of SRA is until June 30, 2021 only.
Under Bayanihan 2, entitlement to SRA has been limited to those directly catering or exposed to Covid-19 patients as clarified by the Department of Justice, thus it cannot be provided to all health care workers.
Given these limitations, the DOH supports the ongoing legislative initiatives for the continued provision of benefits for health care workers.
The Department is also improving and streamlining its processes to ensure that benefits are equitably and promptly distributed. (PR)