DOH: P66.2B needed to fully pay health emergency allowances

By GISELLE OMBAY,GMA Integrated News

The Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday it was requesting from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) an amount of P66.2 billion in order to fully pay the health emergency allowances (HEA) for healthcare workers. 

Prior to the approval by the Senate committee on finance regarding the P311.3 billion proposed budget of the DOH and its attached agencies for 2024, Health Undersecretary Ma. Carolina Vidal- Taiño disclosed that the total HEA requirement from 2021 to 2023 amounted to P113 billion.

“Out of this, the DBM released in 2022, P46.8 billion or 41% of the requirement. So we have arrears of P66.2 billion,” she said. 

This prompted Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda to call on fellow lawmakers not to approve a measure if it has no funding source. 

The benefits for frontline workers who rendered services at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic were provided under the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act (Bayanihan 2). 

“It’s addressed to us, lawmakers, ‘wag tayong mangangako sa batas kung walang source of funds. Let us not give the people bubbles or fake hopes na hindi kayang tuparin kasi umaasa ang mga tao,” Legarda said. 

(To us lawmakers, don't promise anything in the law if there is no source of funds. Let us not give people bubbles or false hopes that we cannot fulfill because people are hoping.) 


Taiño said that of the P46.8 billion released by the DBM, a total of P46.7 billion or 99% has already been obligated and downloaded by the DOH to various centers for health development and health facilities. 

“Out of this, P42.7 billion or 91.42% were already disbursed. We were able to pay 6.5 million healthcare workers,” she added. 

In August, DOH spokesperson Undersecretary Enrique Tayag said the DOH was targeting to complete this year the distribution of the delayed HEAs. 

The United Private Hospital Unions of the Philippines (UPHUP) earlier lodged a complaint with the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA) against several DOH regional offices for their failure to respond to inquiries regarding the long-overdue distribution of HEAs.

The group alleged that DOH regional offices in Ilocos Region, National Capital Region, Calabarzon, Mimaropa, Western Visayas, Central Visayas, Zamboanga Peninsula, Northern Mindanao, Davao Region, Soccsksargen, and the Bangsamoro Region violated Republic Act 11032, or the Ease of Doing Business and Efficient Government Service Delivery Act of 2018. —VBL, GMA Integrated News