At a Senate hearing on Wednesday, Health Secretary Francisco duque III promised to seek funding for the frontliners' special risk allowance (SRA).
“Certainly, we will look into freeing up some of the funds. Since today, there are still ongoing procurement. Aayusin namin. I cannot give you the clear answer right now because we have to look into it kung paano namin mai-realign,” said Duque.
This follows the threat of health workers' unions that they will resign if the provision of SRA, which was previously funded in Bayanihan 1 and 2, is delayed.
The June 30 deadline has been reached for the Bayanihan Law, but the special risk allowance has not been given to all health care workers.
The undistributed funds have been returned by the Department of Health (DOH) to the department of budget and management (DBM).
Nor can it be casually funded without a law.
“We need a law kasi reverted na yan sa Bayanihan 2. We released P9.02 billion for SRA in June of this year, and they reverted an amount. Unfortunately, without a law, we cannot provide any amount for the SRA at the moment,” said DBM OIC Undersecretary Tina Rose Canda.
DBM: No longer a law to fund special risk allowance of frontliners
But Sen. Sonny Angara insisted that it can still be pursued because the country is still in national emergency status.
“The Bayanihan 2 law, although the majority of the provisions have lapsed as of June 30, but the provision on health benefits to our health workers specifically states that it shall subsist or pwede pa ring ibigay yun so long as yung national emergency as declared by the president is enforced,” said Angara.
Some health workers' unions such as St Lukes and UST Hospital threaten mass resignation if the special risk allowance of health workers would not be released.
The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) warns that the problem of mass resignation will worsen if the problems of health workers are not addressed immediately.
The release of a report from the Commission on Audit on some issues with DOH funding added to the resentment of health workers.