DOH assures health workers of release of COVID-19 benefits soon

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 02 2022 06:00 PM

Health workers stage a noise barrage protest in front of the Heart Center of the Philippines in Quezon City on Aug. 25, 2022. They are calling on the government to release the One COVID-19 Allowance and other benefits. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News
Health workers stage a noise barrage protest in front of the Heart Center of the Philippines in Quezon City on Aug. 25, 2022. They are calling on the government to release the One COVID-19 Allowance and other benefits. Jire Carreon, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Department of Health said Friday it was working with the Department of Budget Management to hasten the release of additional COVID-19 benefits for healthcare workers.

According to DOH officer-in-charge Maria Rosario Vergeire, the agency submitted to the DBM on Aug. 19 data requirements to facilitate the release of funds.

A team from the DOH also sat down with the DBM on Thursday to thrash out the issues related to benefits for medical frontliners.

"Hopefully, in the coming days, we'll have the release of funds pagkatapos nitong pag-uusap na 'to. So that we can already release the funds to our regional offices para sa ating healthcare workers," Vergeire said in a press briefing.

(Hopefully, in the coming days, we'll have the release of funds after this discussion, so we can already release the funds to our regional offices for our healthcare workers.) 

In a statement issued Thursday, the DBM vowed said it would immediately process the request for additional funds "as long as DOH can address the deficiencies in the documentary requirements".

In February, the DBM released to the health department a total of P7.9 billion to cover the One COVID-19 Allowance or OCA of both healthcare workers and non-healthcare workers pursuant to Republic Act 11712. 

Under the OCA, health workers who are identified to be at high risk shall receive P9,000 a month while those who are determined to be in moderate and low risk are entitled to a monthly benefit of P6,000 and P3,000, respectively. 

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Courtesy of DOH

The DOH requested again for the release of P63 billion on May 26, according to the DBM.

The budget department on June 8 sent the DOH a response letter requesting it to address deficiencies on documentary requirements. 

"Essentially, we requested them to substantiate their request by sending us the budget breakdown, segregation, actual names of claimants, and other relevant documents for us to clearly determine the universe of eligible beneficiaries," the DBM said.

Subsequent meetings were held between the departments in relation to the data requirement "until the request was finally returned by DBM, on June 29, reiterating the required data from the DOH," the statement reads.

"DOH replied to us on July 15, but they were only able to address and substantiate documents that are related to unpaid COVID-19 sickness and death claims for FY 2020 and 2021 worth P570 million, which enabled us to release the same amount in August," the DBM said.

The Alliance of Health Workers disclosed Friday that almost 60 percent of medical workers have yet to receive their OCA and other benefits.