'Not P5000': Nurses decry meager special risk allowance

Benise Balaoing, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 01 2021 11:12 AM | Updated as of Sep 01 2021 11:30 AM

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MANILA – No nurse has received P5,000 as a special risk allowance (SRA) for working during the COVID-19 pandemic, the leader of a nurses group said Wednesday.

“It’s not P5,000. The [Department of Budget and Management] did not explain that this P5,000 is still divided by 22 days. So when you divide it by 22, you just get P227, and then you multiply it by the number of actual duty days,” Filipino Nurses United secretary-general Jocelyn Andamo said on ANC’s “Rundown.”

“We have received messages that nurses receive P2000 or P3000 for six months of a duty, or a nurse got P227.20 for the six months, so this is really terrible, frustrating, and infuriating for many of us,” she explained 

Healthcare workers are set to stage massive protests Wednesday to call for the release of benefits they are entitled to under the law.

Last week, the DBM released P311 million to pay for the special risk allowance of 20,000 health workers. But Andamo said an overwhelming majority of them have not yet received the allowances.

“This is really not enough because they have declared that they have given around 315,000 health workers of these benefits and they have later released, around just last week or recently for 20,000, so they have declared that their baseline data for healthcare workers is 500,000.”

“This is very inadequate and it's very ironic because USec. (Maria Rosario) Vergeire has said there are 1.8 million health workers in the Philippines, so there’s a big, big disparity on the data.”

"They have been telling us that the funds have been downloaded but up to yesterday, based on our monitoring, majority of the health workers who deserve these benefits have not received them yet.”

Andamo also lamented that nurses have not received their active hazard duty pay.

“They have not given the budget because they have been saying the hospitals would get the budget from the savings of the hospitals. And that is very unrealistic because at this time of pandemic, the hospitals do not have savings,” she said.

She also said healthcare workers are not being tested for COVID-19 every two weeks as mandated by law, and do not get compensated when they contract the disease.

“We cannot say that our health workers are provided with the services that they need. Some of our nurses who got COVID-19 have not been provided with the entitled compensation of P15,000,” she said. 

Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega, however, said they have paid out compensation to healthcare workers who got infected with COVID-19.

“For the compensation and death benefits, good to note that we already distributed already 23, 195 healthcare workers who had mild, moderate, severe (COVID), and even death,” he said.

Vega noted that the DOH has been releasing the SRA of healthcare workers since June. 

“We have started to give out the SRA since last June, and almost 379,000 healthcare workers both public and private have received the first batch,” he said.

“We know for a fact there were some who were left out by the hospitals that were supposed to be eligible but were not in the masterlist from the different private and public hospitals, even from the regions, so the next batch was collated at 20,000 plus of healthcare workers and this was given last Wednesday. And definitely some of the healthcare workers out of the 20,000 have already received the SRA through their bank accounts.”

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Andamo said the Health department may want to consider reducing the number of requirements healthcare workers have to submit to get their benefits.

“Many of us have beat the deadline and have managed to submit the requirements so I think there is also a problem on the side of the Department of Health to make the requirements easier,” she said.

Andamo said healthcare workers are already extremely exhausted, but they need to continue to fight for their rights to continue serving the Filipino people.

“What is best is we have to fight for our rights because what we’re doing is not only for ourselves but also to make sure that we can continue to serve our people,” she said. 

--ANC, 1 September 2021