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Further P11.56B released for healthcare worker allowances

THE Department of Budget and Management (DBM) said it released a further P11.56 billion to the Department of Health (DoH) to fund the health emergency allowance claims of public and private healthcare workers between January and June.

The Special Allotment Release Order (SARO) was approved on Wednesday for the One COVID-19 allowance (OCA) of over 1.6 million eligible government and private-sector health workers who were on duty in the first half of the year, the DBM said.

“Our healthcare workers deserve all the support and assistance from their government. They’ve been risking their lives to save and protect our people amidst this still prevailing pandemic. This is the least we can do for them,” Budget Secretary Amenah F. Pangandaman was quoted as saying.

According to the DBM, the P11.56 billion will cover the unfunded maintenance and other operating expenses (MOOE) amounting to P18.72 billion owed to 2.6 million approved claimants by the DoH from January to June.

The P18.72 billion includes P3.75 billion for personal services (covered healthcare workers who are government employees) and P14.98 billion for MOOE (for nonpermanent government healthcare workers and private healthcare workers).

Some P7.92 billion was released on Feb. 14 to cover 995,671 claims. Of this total, P3.42 billion was for MOOE, and P4.5 billion for personal services.

OCA is authorized by DoH Special Provision No. 14, or Benefits for COVID-19 Workers, as provided for by the 2022 General Appropriations Act, the DBM said.

At an online forum on Tuesday, DoH Officer-in-Charge Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said the department hopes to start disbursing the money by next week.

Republic Act No. 11712, or the Public Health Emergency Benefits and Allowances for Health Care Workers Act, replaced the SRA with a Health Emergency Allowance, with the latter now determined by risk exposure.

On Monday, the DBM also released a SARO amounting to P1.04 billion to cover the SRA of eligible public and private health workers who were involved in the pandemic containment effort between Sept. 15, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

However, OCA accumulated over the past years to about P64 billion, which has not been released in the absence of requests for funding to the DBM. — Diego Gabriel C. Robles

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