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DBM releases additional P1.04B for COVID-19 special risk allowance of health workers

The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Tuesday said it has green-lit the release of  additional funds to the Department of Health (DOH) for the special risk allowance (SRA) of eligible public and private health workers involved in COVID-19 health care response.

In a statement, the DBM said it has approved the issuance of a Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) amounting to P1.04 billion on October 3, 2022.

The Budget department said the amount will cover unpaid COVID-19 SRA claims of 55,211 health workers, who shall receive a grant amounting to P5,000 for every month they are serving during the period of state of national emergency.

“We understand and recognize the selflessness and immense sacrifice that our health workers continue to pour out throughout these turbulent times. Isa po itong paraan sa pagkilala sa kanilang sakripisyo,” said Budget Secretary Amenah Pangandaman.

Qualified health workers refer to medical, allied medical, and other personnel assigned in hospitals and health care facilities, and who are directly catering to or are in contact with COVID-19 patients, persons under investigation (PUIs) or persons under monitoring (PUMs).

The DBM said the release of funding for COVID-19 SRA is pursuant to Republic Act (RA) No. 11494, known as the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, which mandates the provision of allowances and benefits to all public and private health workers catering to or are in contact with COVID-19 patients.

Meanwhile, Administrative Order No. 36 (Authorizing the Grant of COVID-19 SRA to Health Workers directly catering to or in contact with COVID-19 patients during the State of National Emergency) was issued on November 20, 2020.

The grant of the SRA was further extended to June 30, 2021 under Administrative Order No. 42.

To further continue the benefit being provided to all public and private health workers, RA No. 11712 or “An Act Granting Mandatory Continuing Benefits and Allowances to Public and Private Health Care Workers During the Covid-19 Pandemic and Other Future Public Health Emergencies, and Appropriating Funds Therefore” was passed into law on April 27, 2022 during the period of Public Health Emergency commencing from July 1, 2021.

Under the said law, the SRA was effectively replaced by Health Emergency Allowance (HEA), with amounts provided based on risk levels.

Risk exposure categorization as defined in the law, and their corresponding levels of allowances, are as follows:

  • those deployed in "low risk areas" shall be given at least P3,000;
  • those deployed in "medium risk areas" shall be given at least P6,000; and
  • those deployed in "high risk areas" shall be given at least P9,000.

“Rest assured that we will continue to closely coordinate with the DOH so that our health care workers get the allowances and benefits they deserve,” said Pangandaman.

To date, the total released allotment for SRA amounts to P11.857 billion, according to the DBM. —KG, GMA News