By Ernie Reyes
MANILA — Senator Joel Villanueva today raised what appears to be
conflicting numbers in the Department of Health’s (DOH) hiring
program, saying that while the DOH was asking for P3.8 billion in
funds to hire additional personnel under its emergency hiring program,
there still remained over 14,000 unfilled positions in the
Villanueva asked DOH representatives at the budget hearing to provide
an update on a recommendation he made through the Senate blue ribbon
committee for contracts of frontline healthcare workers to be extended
by at least one year.
He asked the DOH if there was any effort, in coordination with the
Civil Service Commission (CSC), to hire regular workers instead of
“We cannot determine if we are nearing the end of the pandemic,”
Villanueva said during the hearing.
This, he said, makes it important for the DOH to adopt a system of
hiring that would fulfill the needs of pandemic response.
If contractual employees were hired again, Villanueva said they should
also be qualified to receive special risk allowances (SRA), hazard
duty pay and other allowances being given to health care workers with
He also asked the DOH to give an update on whether SRA and other
allowances that are due health care workers have already been given.
Villanueva said at the last hearing on the DOH budget, it was
mentioned that the department already requested funds from the
Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for the SRA of at least
85,000 health care workers.
He said the release of SRA and other benefits for those at the
frontline of the fight against COVID should be uniform for all health
“There will be a lot of factors that will determine the risks involved
in a risk-based classification of grant of COVID-19 benefits,”
Villanueva said. “It would be difficult to ascertain this because this
may vary depending on whether a surge may occur in a particular area,”
he said. (ai/mtvn)