Health workers and related professions protest the slow and lackluster release of the One-Covid Allowances meant for front-line medical workers. Photo from Reuters.
The Department of Health’s (DOH) officer-in-charge, Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire, revealed on Monday, September 12, 2022, that the COVID-19 Special Risk Allowance (SRA) worth P1 Billion Pesos for over 55,844 health care workers has remained unfunded for the past two years since the pandemic affected the country.
During the meeting with the House Appropriations panel on the DOH's presentation of its P301 billion proposed budget for 2023, Vergeire also shared that the still unfunded SRA and source for the unsettled budget is an ongoing point of discussion with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).
"The department (DBM) is evaluating the propriety of the claims, but we have identified the potential budget source to cover the request," DBM Director Sofia Abad responded.
“We have identified the possible source to cover the request, and it will be sufficient," Abad added.
Health Workforce Protests
The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) national president, Robert Mendoza, stated that the medical workers are also anticipating the release of other prior COVID-19-related financial assistance. The full amount of the One COVID-19 Allowance (OCA) and the health emergency allowance (HEA) will cover their pay from July 2021 to December 2021.
OCA provides monthly grants of P9,000 to those working in high-risk areas, P6,000 to those in moderate risk, and P3,000 for those in low-risk areas.
“It is already BER months, and yet the promised One COVID allowance starting January 2022 to June 2022 is not yet fully released to health workers in the GOCC [government owned and controlled corporations) hospitals, PGH [Philippine General Hospital], private and LGUs,” commented Philippine Heart Center Employees Association-AHW Acting President Sally Ejes
“Besides OCA, retroactive payment of HEA covering the period of July-December 2021 is not yet also released. We are also expecting the implementation of HEA starting July 2022 up to the present,” Ejes added.
Concerned health workers have already staged protests criticizing pandemic-related benefits delays, one recently executed in front of the DOH Central office in Manila led by the AHW.