MANILA (UPDATE) — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the release of P1.185 billion in additional funds for the special risk allowance (SRA) of health workers, his ally said on Wednesday.
The funds will go to medical workers who have yet to get their SRA and are directly catering to or in contact with patients stricken with COVID-19. It will be charged against the 2021 Contingent Fund, said Sen. Christopher Go.
The monthly SRA is at around P5,000, Secretary Health Francisco Duque III said in a recent meeting with Duterte.
Duterte said, "I think that the P5,000 is masyadong maliit ngayon (is too small), considering the attendant danger to the guys."
"Medyo (somehow), they should be given more. Take into account the possibility of danger, they themselves will get the [virus] because they have to go near, and they have to treat those people," he said.
"I will increase, hindi ko pa masabi magkano, wala mang budget [official] dito," Duterte then promised.
(I will increase it, I can't say by how much, there is no budget official here.)
Last year, the delayed release of health workers' benefits triggered protests from medical frontliners across the country.
The 2022 national budget includes about P50 billion for the risk allowance of medical frontliners.
The DOH, in a statement Thursday, said some P1.08 billion in this year's budget was allotted for healthcare workers who contracted COVID-19 in the line of duty.
The One COVID Allowance (OCA) will be pro-rated, according to the health agency. Medical frontliners deemed to be high risk will receive P9,000 per month while those classified as moderate and low risk shall be given P6,000 and P3,000, respectively, it added.
Some P7.9 billion of the P50 billion budget for medical workers' special risk allowance is classified as "For Later Release" and will be approved by the Department of Budget and Management when "all documentary requirements have been fulfilled," the DOH said.
"The Department, therefore, calls on all public and private health facilities to comply and cooperate to ensure that guidelines are properly reiterated to our HCWs to prevent any miscommunication and fastrack the implementation of the OCA," it said.
The agency also said it would coordinate with the DBM to ensure that the remaining P42 billion under unprogrammed funds would be "prioritized to ensure the implementation of the OCA until the state of national emergency has been lifted."