Private hospitals reject Duque claim they're to blame for delayed benefits

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 19 2021 09:59 AM | Updated as of Aug 19 2021 02:17 PM

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MANILA - A group of private hospitals on Thursday rejected the health department's claim that they are responsible for the delayed disbursement of special benefits to medical frontliners.

Dr. Jose Rene De Grano, president of Private Hospitals Association of the Philippines, Inc (PHAPi), said the bureaucratic system was the culprit for the delayed disbursement of special risk allowance and hazard pay.

"Dun po sa aming survey 'yung mga ano naka-hold pa po sa mga opisina ng Department of Health. 'Yung iba pinapadaan pa nila sa local government units," he told Teleradyo.

(Based on our survey, the [benefits] are still on hold in the offices of the Department of Health. Others are coursed through local governments units.)

De Grano estimated that half of private health-care workers had yet to receive the benefits as private hospitals and the DOH had yet to come up with a memorandum of agreement.

A MOA is required before the benefits will be released, he said.

De Grano also dismissed the DOH's claim that private hospitals had yet to accomplish the requirements for the SRA and hazard pay.

"Karamihan naman po sa aming mga hospital nai-submit nila. Hinihintay na lang talaga po nila," he said.

"Alam niyo naman po sa gobyerno... may konting bureaucracy, may konting delay," he added.

(Many of our hospitals have already submitted [the requirements]. They are only waiting [for the release of the benefits. You know, in the government, there's bureaucracy, there's slight delay.)

For De Grano, all health-care workers should receive the benefits and not only those assigned in COVID-19 wards.

"Ang sinasabi ng ating mga alliance of health-care workers, 'Paano ba 'yan sa hospital eh pareho lang naman ang hangin na aming hinihigop dun?'" he said.

(Our alliance of health-care workers are saying, 'How come when we only breathed the same air in the hospital?'")

In a Senate hearing Wednesday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III blamed private hospitals for the delayed disbursement.

Data from DOH showed that between September 2020 and June 2021, the agency released nearly P15-billion worth of allowances and monetary benefits for 1.2 million medical workers.

Under the law, health workers attending to COVID-19 patients are entitled to receive SRA and hazard pay on top of their usual salaries. 

Medical frontliners must also receive meal, accommodation and transportation allowances, as well as free swab tests.