Press Release | 28 November 2021
The Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday reported Php 15,719,085,923 worth of benefits for healthcare workers has been disbursed as of November 26, 2021. This is based on the latest, reconciled figures reflected in the Statement of Allotment, Obligation and Balances (SAOB) and is part of the Php 16,229,088,025.2 total amount disbursed as updated last November 23, 2021, of which the difference is for reconciliation.
The DOH said that Php 7,915,760,434 Special Risk Allowance (SRA) of 486,585 healthcare workers has been disbursed covering the period December 20, 2020 to June 30, 2021. While Php 6,555,957,185 was disbursed as SRA and active hazard duty pay (AHDP) was released last year for 315,652 and 390,662 healthcare workers, respectively. Additionally, meals, accommodation, and transportation (MAT) benefits worth Php 1,231,098,680 have been received by 103,413 healthcare workers.
“The Department is committed to recognizing the important contribution of our healthcare workers in the fight against COVID-19, hence we aim to provide them with the compensation and benefits they deserve as stated in Republic Act 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act. We are continuously coordinating with local government units to fast track the disbursement of remaining SRA funds to eligible healthcare workers for the period of December 20, 2020 to June 30, 2020,'' said Administration and Financial Management Head Undersecretary of Health Leopoldo Vega.
The DOH added that pending requests for additional SRA funds for Batch 5 and Batch 6 shall be evaluated by DBM once releases for the previous batches have been fully disbursed.
Meals Accommodation and Transportation Benefit
Meanwhile, the DOH clarified that under Bayanihan 2, the provision of MAT benefits was for the convenience of healthcare workers, and to protect their families who are at risk of contracting COVID-19 as they travel from their homes to health facilities.
“MAT benefits for healthcare workers were to be provided as actual transportation arrangements, accommodation, and meals in order to lessen their burden from traveling from their homes to work and vice versa. We also wanted to keep their families safe, to prevent healthcare workers from potentially infecting their family members at home by providing MAT,” explained Usec. Vega.
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. These funds, in turn, were used by the DOH to support other requirements for the pandemic response.
Recognizing that a number of healthcare workers have not been able to receive the MAT benefits, the DOH is continuously working with DBM and OP to secure funding and appropriate authority to provide the MAT retroactively to those who have yet to receive it.
Proposed Benefits for HCWs
The DOH further explained that healthcare worker benefits have certain limitations as to their scope and coverage period.
In the case of the AHDP, it can no longer be granted beyond December 19, 2020. While the grant of SRA is 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.
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.
“Recognizing these challenges, the DOH supports for the passage of Senate Bill 2421, otherwise known as 'An Act Granting Continuing COVID-19 Benefits to Public and Private Health Workers during the Period of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Providing Funds thereof, and for other purposes.' The said bill grants a unified healthcare worker benefit to all private and public health workers based on risk categorization in the spirit of equity” added Usec. Vega