President Rodrigo Duterte ordered Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to pay the allowances and benefits due to medical frontliners within 10 days amid some groups’ protests over the delayed payments.
He also told the Health chief to pay the vaccinators who volunteered in the government’s COVID-19 inoculation program.
“Unahan na lang kita. May pera man. Sabi nga, ang pera obligated na… Babayaran lahat ‘yung nagrereklamo na frontliners about their allowances, about whatever, pati…itong mga volunteers na nagbakuna,” Duterte said in a taped public address aired Saturday morning.
(There are funds which are already obligated. Pay all those frontliners who have been complaining about their allowances, about whatever, including these vaccinators who volunteered.)
“I am now ordering, this is now an order, Secretary Duque. Bayaran mo (Pay them). Use whatever money there is. Bayaran mo ang mga hinihingi ng (Pay whatever that is due to the) nurses both in government and those outside of our government na volunteers,” he added.
Duterte prodded the DBM officials to fast-track the release of funds for the health workers’ benefit.
“I know that this, bayaran mo, it is upon your request to the DBM. Hindi ikaw (Duque) ang kukuha diyan sa bulsa mo para ibayad mo, correct? I would like now, itong naghawak ng pera or may authority to spend, DBM, I'm giving you 10 days,” he said.
(I know that if you pay these dues, it is upon your request to the DBM. It is not like you are just getting the money from your pocket to pay them, right? I would like those who hold the government money or those who have the authority to spend, the DBM to release it. I’m giving you 10 days.)
He even suggested to borrow personnel from the Commission on Audit, which earlier flagged the “deficiencies” in the use of DOH’s funds for COVID-19 in 2020, to hasten the release of the funds.
“Wala kayong personnel? Borrow from other agencies. Kumuha kayo ng mga empleyado o hiraman ninyo ang mga taga-COA para bigay mo ang pera kay Sec. Duque tapos bayaran niya. Walang hinahawakan si Sec. Duque na pera,” he said.
(You don’t have enough personnel? Borrow from other agencies. Get your employees or borrow from COA and give money to Sec. Duque so that he can pay these benefits. Duque is not the one handling the money.)
Last Monday, Duterte had already directed the Department of Health to prioritize the payment of allowances and other benefits due to the country’s health workers.
Several groups of health workers from both government hospitals and the private institutions have been complaining of the non-release of their special risk allowance and the removal of their other benefits such as meal and transportation allowances even as they continue to be on the frontlines in the battle against COVID-19.
Some have threatened to go on mass leave over what they call the government’s neglect of their plight. —KG, GMA News