Go calls for more efficient, inclusive provision of Special Risk Allowance

Go calls for more efficient, inclusive provision of Special Risk Allowance

Sen. Bong Go


By Ernie Reyes

MANILA – Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go appealed to the
Department of Health (DOH) to study the possibility of expanding the
provision of the Special Risk Allowance (SRA) to all health workers
who are serving in health facilities during the COVID-19 crisis.

In an interview recently, Go, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health,
reminded the DOH to ensure that health workers are sufficiently
supported at this time by taking the necessary steps to address any
impediment that may prevent the timely release of the SRA and other
related forms of support.

“Para sa akin, pag-aralan nating mabuti. I am appealing to the DOH na
pag-aralan ng mabuti. Bigyan natin ng importansya itong health
workers, ma-pribado man o pampublikong ospital, dahil sila ang
isinabak natin sa giyerang ito. Ang COVID-19 ang kalaban at buhay ng
mga health workers ang nakataya dito,” emphasized Go.

The Senator explained that the Bayanihan 2 Act limits the provision of
the SRA to health workers who are in ‘direct contact with COVID-19
patients’. He, however, argued that given the number of cases being
catered to in hospitals and health facilities, almost all health
workers can fall within the scope of the definition.

“Ang posisyon ng DOH ay baka maabuso ang SRA kaya dapat ‘yung mga
exposed lang sa COVID-19 ang dapat bigyan. Ako naman, mahirap
i-determine kung sino ang exposed dahil buti sana kung nakikita natin
itong kalaban, itong COVID-19,” continued Go.

“’Pagdating mo sa ospital, ‘di mo naman masasabi. Once nasa loob ka
na, prone at maituturing na exposed ka na rin. Hindi mo masabi na
walang virus sa dinaanan mong floor dahil dito lang ang virus kasi
hindi nga natin nakikita ang kalaban,” he added.

The DOH disclosed that it initially proposed to the DBM a total of
P50.4 billion for 365,000 public and private health workers and their
COVID-19 special risk allowance, hazard pay, transport, insurance,
accommodation or meals for a period of 12 months. In particular, SRA
has a funding requirement amounting to P18.03 billion or P1.5 billion
per month for a total of 300,500 health workers.

Meanwhile, the DOH budget under the 2022 National Expenditure Program
of the DBM includes P3.8 billion for emergency hiring of human
resources in health facilities for COVID-19 response. The figure
already includes the provisions for their SRA, Active Hazard Duty Pay
and salaries.

In light of these developments, Go vowed to ensure that the DOH is
adequately funded in the next fiscal year. He expressed concern over
the impacts of any more delays in the release of the SRA and
underscored its importance in helping boost the morale of the health
workers whose valuable contributions to the COVID-19 response should
be recognized.

“Dadaan naman sa amin sa Senado ang budget ng DOH. Kung kailangan
sa-komite o bicameral, tutulong ako dahil sabi ko nga importante itong
SRA ng ating health workers. Ipaglalaban ko ‘yan,” promised Go.

“Bilang committee chair ng Health, ako’y mag-aapela at ipaglalaban ko…
kapag dumating ‘yan sa amin sa Senado ay tutulong ako na mahanapan ng
paraan na mabigyan sila ng pondo papunta next year. Kasi ayaw kong
ma-low morale ang ating health workers. Ipaglalaban ko ang kapakanan
nila palagi,” he reassured further.

The Senator has repeatedly called on the government to ensure the
welfare of the health workers who are confronting increased risks and
an ever-growing workload. He previously successfully issued several
appeals urging the government to grant a COVID-19 SRA to health workers
working directly with COVID-19 patients, and an AHDP to Human
Resources for Health personnel who are also serving in the frontlines.

He likewise called on the government to grant more assistance and
protection to health workers, such as the provision of personal
protective equipment, inclusion in the COVID-19 testing protocol and
additional pay, among others.

As Vice-Chairperson of the Senate Committee on Finance, he fought for
the inclusion of additional funds in the 2020 budget to provide for
the salary increase of public nurses in Nurse I and II positions.

He also authored the Salary Standardization Law 5 which raised the
salary of all civilian government employees, including public health
workers, from 2020 to 2023.

“Bilang Chair ng Senate Committee on Health, ipinaglaban natin na
mabigyan ang ating frontliners ng dagdag benepisyo at allowance na
naaayon sa batas lalo na sa panahon ngayon ng health crisis,” said Go.

“Lubos ang aking pasasalamat sa mga frontliners na patuloy
nagsasakripisyo at nakikipaglaban sa pandemya upang masiguro ang
kaligtasan ng mga kababayan natin. Kayo ang inaasahan ng bayan ngayon.
Kaya nga frontliners dahil kayo ang nakakaalam ng ganitong giyera.
Stay assured na handa kami ni Presidente Duterte na makinig at
magserbisyo sa inyong lahat,” he added.

(ai/mtvn)

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