The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Wednesday said it has released P311.79 million for the much-delayed special risk allowances (SRAs) of both public and private healthcare workers in the country.
The DBM said the funds were charged from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund and the Unprogrammed Appropriations under the 2021 General Appropriations Act.
This comes after President Rodrigo Duterte over the weekend ordered both the DBM and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to pay the already delayed allowances to frontliners within 10 days.
Under the guidelines, public and private health workers directly catering to COVID-19 patients are entitled to an SRA not exceeding P5,000 a month from December 20, 2020 to June 30, 2021.
The SRA will be on a prorated basis, depending on the number of days that the healthcare workers were on duty in a month.
“The Department of Health shall facilitate the downloading of funds to the DOH-retained hospitals, treatment, and rehabilitation centers, private hospitals and other COVID-19 facilities,” the DBM said.
“The DBM is committed to fulfill its mandate of promoting the efficient and effective management of the national budget while also ensuring the needs of the Filipino people are met, especially of healthcare workers, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” it added.
Health workers’ groups have been vocal on the non-release of the SRAs, and the removal of other benefits such as meal and transportation allowances even as they continue to serve in the country’s battle against COVID-19.
The Commission (COA) flagged “deficiencies” in the use of P67.32-billion worth of COVID-19 funds, including P11.89 billion which remained unobligated as of December 31, 2020.
The DBM also said it released some P9.02 billion in June as part of the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act or Bayanihan 2, but portions of these were unused and were reverted back to the Bureau of the Treasury.
These can no longer be availed upon expiry of the law in June 30, 2021. —NB, GMA News