DOH uses P311 million worth of savings to pay frontliners' benefits

·Contributor
·2 min read
FILE PHOTO: People wearing masks for protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pass a mural dedicated to healthcare workers, in Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines, October 30, 2020. (Source: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)
FILE PHOTO: People wearing masks for protection against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pass a mural dedicated to healthcare workers, in Pasig City, Metro Manila, Philippines, October 30, 2020. (Source: REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)

The Department of Health (DOH) will use P311 ($6.22) million from its savings to cover the special risk allowance of 20,156 health care workers from both public and private facilities who were added to the existing list of claimants.

"We can source it out from our contingency fund to which the [Department of Budget and Management] already has the approval from the Office of the President," DOH spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online press conference.

Vergeire, however, clarified that the amount is not yet final, pending the list from regional offices and facilities.

"That's not final yet. Kailangan naming hintayin yung final list na isusumite sa amin ng aming facilities and regional office para magkaroon tayo ng final number at final amount that we need," she said.

(Translation: We still need to wait for the final list that will be submitted to us by our regional offices and facilities so that we can come up with a final number and the final amount that we need.)

Earlier, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III claimed that a specific provision of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, restricts the payment of benefits to frontliners not directly involved with COVID-19 patients. However, lawmakers pointed out that said provision should be interpreted more broadly because all frontliners run the risk of getting exposed to the coronavirus.

Duque also previously blamed private hospitals for the delayed release of monetary benefits to health workers, however medical frontliners refuted his claim.

In a statement released on Monday, DOH said that Duque and Administration and Financial Management Team Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega are leading DOH offices and operating units to fast track the provision of Special Risk Allowance (SRA) to more healthcare workers.

“DOH offices and operating units are now working double time to comply with the COA audit findings within 60 days or less. Gaya ng sinabi ko noon, bukas na bukas po ang aming tanggapan upang makipagtulungan sa COA upang mapabuti pa ang aming mga proseso at mapagsilbihan ng mas mabuti ang ating mga kababayan,” said Duque.

“We have always been cooperative with the yearly audit of COA. The DOH always strives to comply with its yearly audit recommendations and this year will not be different,” said Vega.

Ana Catalina Paje is a development journalist passionate about grassroots communication geared towards genuine social change. She also writes about showbiz, lifestyle, and all things Pinoy pride. The views expressed are her own.

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