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DOH seeks additional funds for risk allowance of 17K more health workers

The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday said it has sought additional funds from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) to provide the COVID-19 special risk allowance (SRA) to over 17,000 more health workers.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said this is aside from the P311 million released for the SRA of more than 20,000 health workers earlier this week. 

“Meron na po tayong bagong request sa DBM kung saan may nakapagsumite na sa atin ng around 17,670 additional healthcare workers na nag-submit ng kanilang mga requirements,” she told a briefing.

(We have a new request to the DBM for around 17,670 additional healthcare workers who have submitted their requirements.)

Vergeire said the DOH and DBM are in talks to extend the contracts of health workers hired through the emergency hiring program.

“Kami po ay nakikipag-usap maigi ngayon sa DBM para magkaroon na tayo ng additional funds para ma-extend po natin ‘yung ma nai-hire na nating mga empleyado hanggang sa end of this year, so inaantay pa rin po natin ang sagot ng DBM para diyan,” she said.

(We are talking to the DBM to get additional funds so we can extend the employees we hired until the end of this year. We are still awaiting the response of the DBM to that.)

The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) earlier said they would push through with their plan to stage a mass protest on September , citing the DOH’s failure to provide their allowances for meals, accommodation, and transportation, and active hazard duty pay. 

"Hindi kasi nila binabayaran ang lahat kaya dismayado ang health workers. Bakit SRA lang? Ang dami ninyong utang (They are not paying us for everything, that’s why health workers are disappointed. Why only SRA? You owe us so much)," AHW President Robert Mendoza said.

The group gave the government an August 27 deadline to release their long sought after benefits.

Vergeire appealed for patience from health workers, insisting that the DOH is "doing its best" to provide their benefits.

"Sana ang isipin na lang po nating lahat ngayon, 'yung mga pasyente po na nangangailangan lahat ng serbisyo nating lahat [Let's all think about the patients who need our services]," she said.

"Kami po ay nandiyan para suportahan kayo. Bigyan niyo lang po kami ng konting panahon para makumpleto po natin ito lahat [We are here to support you. Just give us some time to complete all of this]," she added.

In a separate interview on Unang Balita earlier in the day, Dr. Ted Herbosa, an adviser to the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19, said DOH regional offices can now release the SRA of health workers to hospitals.

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said earlier this week that the SRA and compensation for health workers will be distributed until Aug. 31.

This was after President Rodrigo Duterte directed the DOH and DBM to render the allowances and other COVID-19 benefits for medical workers within 10 days.—KBK, GMA News