MANILA, Philippines — Over P15.7 billion in benefits for healthcare workers has already been disbursed as of Nov. 26, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Sunday.
According to the DOH, the figure — P15,719,085,923, to be exact — was based on the latest statement of allotment, obligation, and balances (SAOB). It was part of the P16,229,088,025.2 total amount disbursed as updated on Nov. 23 — “of which the difference is for reconciliation,” DOH said.
The breakdown of the amount is as follows:
- P7,915,760,434 in special risk allowances (SRAs) for 486,585 health workers covering the period Dec. 20, 2020, to June 30, 2021
- P6,555,957,185 in 2020 as SRA for 315,652 medical workers and as active hazard duty pay (AHDP) for 390,662 medical workers
- P1,231,098,680 for meals, accommodations, and transportation (MAT) benefits for 103,413 healthcare workers
The DOH said that pending requests for additional SRA funds for the fifth and sixth batches would be evaluated by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) once releases for the previous batches had been fully disbursed.
Missing MAT benefits
In the same statement, the DOH clarified that it had started working with DBM and the Office of the President to secure funding and the authority to provide the MAT to those who had not received it.
According to DOH, under Bayanihan 2, the provision of MAT benefits was for the convenience of medical workers and to protect their families who are at risk of getting COVID-19.
“As these benefits were originally intended to be provided in-kind or as actual services, health facilities that were not able to disburse these amounts for such purpose, have opted to return unspent funds to the DOH before the year ended, to prevent reversion of funds to the Treasury,” said the DOH in the statement.
“These funds, in turn, were used by the DOH to support other requirements for the pandemic response,” it added.
Proposed benefits for HCWs
Meanwhile, the DOH explained that health workers’ benefits had certain limitations as to their scope and coverage period.
In the case of the AHDP, the DOH said that it could no longer be granted beyond Dec. 19, 2020, while the grant of SRA was only until June 30, 2021.
“Moreover, under Bayanihan 2 entitlement to SRA has been limited to those directly catering or exposed to COVID-19 patients as clarified by the Department of Justice, thus the said benefit cannot be provided to all healthcare workers,” the DOH explained.
“Given these limitations, the DOH has supported ongoing legislative initiatives for the continued provision of benefits for our healthcare workers. The Department is also improving and streamlining its processes to ensure that benefits are equitably and promptly distributed,” it added.
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