Health workers decry delayed benefits, as DOH flagged for COVID fund deficiencies

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2021 10:22 AM | Updated as of Aug 12 2021 10:45 AM

Health workers from the Philippine Orthopedic Center stage a protest in Quezon City on June 21, 2021, lambasting the Department of Health over the reported non-release of funds for meal, accommodation, and transportation benefits under the Bayanihan Law 2. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Health workers from the Philippine Orthopedic Center stage a protest in Quezon City on June 21, 2021, lambasting the Department of Health over the reported non-release of funds for meal, accommodation, and transportation benefits under the Bayanihan Law 2. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA—A group of medical frontliners on Thursday said they have yet to receive their special risk allowance (SRA), hazard pay and other benefits.

" 'Yun nga ang nakakalungkot. Sinasabing mga bayani pero sa ngayon nga malungkot ang mga health workers dahil 'yung mga benepisyong 'yan ay hindi pa rin naibibigay," Alliance of Health Workers president Robert Mendoza told Teleradyo.

(That's what's so sad. They are called heroes but our health workers are unhappy because they have yet to receive their benefits.)

Mendoza's comments came as state auditors flagged that the Department of Health allegedly failed to account for P67-billion worth of COVID-19 funds.

He said many health workers have yet to receive their meal, accommodation and transportation benefits amounting to a maximum of P38,000. 

Some have received their benefits but were given as gift check, vouchers or groceries, he added.

The group also flagged the unequal distribution of SRA as only those with direct contact to COVID-19 patients are eligible to receive it.

Mendoza cited that health workers from a certain private hospital in Metro Manila received only P400 to P500 of their SRA.

In June, the Department of Budget and Management released the P9.02-billion fund allotted for the SRA of public and private health workers attending to COVID-19 patients.

The funds covered the payment of the special risk allowances not exceeding P5,000 per month from Dec. 20, 2020 to June 30.

In the interview, Mendoza said the delayed release of their benefits might lead to more resignations among health workers.

"Dahil nakita ng mga health workers na parang hindi totoo 'yung pangangalaga, pagkalinga ng ating Department of Health kaya sa ngayon understaffed talaga tayo," he said.

(Our health workers see that the Department of Health appear to not care for them that's why we are currently understaffed.)

"Marami na ang nag-resign dahil natatakot na rin mahawaan ng COVID. Ang iba umalis na rin ng ibang bansa," he added.

(Many have resigned due to fear of catching COVID-19. Others went to work abroad.)

Mendoza also called on the national government to continue providing benefits to health workers.

"Dapat tuloy-tuloy ang mga benepisyo ng mga health workers. Parang on and off kasi ang benepisyo. Ang virus naman hindi naman siya on and off," he said.

(The benefits of health workers should continue because it's like on and off. The virus is not on and off.)

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