Pay healthcare workers benefits, PRRD orders DOH – Philippine Canadian Inquirer
MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte called on the Department of Health (DOH) to facilitate the immediate disbursement of benefits for frontline health workers.
Duterte gave the new directive amid complaints from some groups of private hospital health professionals regarding the non-release of their Special Risk Allowance (SRA) and the withdrawal of their other benefits amid the current pandemic of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
In a pre-recorded Talk to the People delivered Friday night and aired Saturday morning, Duterte told Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to use his available funds and seek other sources of funding to compensate healthcare workers.
“I am determined to get our country out of this pandemic, with the help of frontline institutions so that we can be victorious,” Duterte said. “Secretary Duque, bayaran mo (pay [the medical front-liners]. Use the money there is. Bayaran mo ‘yung hinihingi ng mga nurses (Give what nurses ask), both within government and outside of government volunteers.
Duterte also gave the Ministry of Budget and Management (DBM) at least “10 days” to release the funds necessary for the distribution of benefits to primary care physicians.
“Itong naghawak ng pera, DBM, I give you 10 days [to release the money],” he said. “Ibigay mo yung pera kay Secretary Duque tapos bayaran niya (Give the money to secretary Duque so that he can pay for the health workers’ benefits).
Duterte also expressed his willingness to use his office’s contingency fund to ensure the rapid release of health worker benefits.
He is committed to ensuring that all primary care physicians receive their allowances and other benefits amid the pandemic.
“Basta maghanap ka ng pera (just looking for money) and any shortfall I will provide him with a contingency fund, if mai naiwan pa (there is still some left). Pero (But) I am willing to share the burden doon sa funds ko (by sharing my funds) regardless of what we have. You have just raised some money. Tell me how much you would still need and if I can provide you, say so immediately, ”he said.
Under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2), primary care physicians are entitled to receive an ARS and a risk premium, in addition to their usual benefits under applicable laws.
On June 1 of this year, Duterte signed Administrative Order (AO) 42, which grants an ARS of up to PHP 5,000 per month to private and public health workers directly exposed to Covid-19 patients.
AO 42, which amends AO 36, the granting of Covid-19 SRA will be prorated based on the number of days frontline health workers physically present for work in a month, as certified by the head of the hospital, laboratory or medical and quarantine establishment, or his authorized representatives, from September 15, 2020 until June 30, 2021.
Funding, according to AO 42, will come from the PHP 13.5 billion allocated under section 10 (a) of the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act (Bayanihan 1) for health-related responses to Covid-19.
Duterte inked AO 42 to “recognize the heroic and invaluable contribution of our health workers across the country, who courageously and generously risk their lives and health by being at the forefront of national efforts to respond to the pandemic.”