By Cip D.C. Cabrera
Local healthcare workers have long been waiting for the release of their ‘promised’ benefits and allowances as front liners in the government’s pandemic response. (Photo from the archives of the Philippine News Agency)
MANILA — While empathizing with the plight of the country’s frontline healthcare workers (HCWs) over delayed benefits and allowances, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has announced that it is working hard with the Department of Health (DoH) to ensure that they (HCWs) are accorded with the cash benefits they deserve.
Early this year in February, the budget department had actually released to the health department a total of P7.9 billion to cover the One Covid allowance of both HCWs and non-HCWs pursuant to Republic Act 11712, or the Public Health Emergency Benefits and Allowances for Health Care Workers Act.
However, last May 26, health officials again requested the release of P63 billion and on June 8, DBM sent them a response letter requesting them to address the deficiencies in the documentary requirements they submitted.
“Essentially, we requested them to substantiate their request by sending us the budget breakdown, segregation, actual names of claimants, and other relevant documents for us to clearly determine the universe of eligible beneficiaries. Subsequent meetings were held between the departments relative to the data requirement until the request was finally returned by DBM, on June 29, reiterating the required data from the DOH,” budget secretary Amenah Pangandaman noted.
This, the DoH replied on July 15 but they were only able to address and substantiate documents that are related to unpaid Covid-19 sickness and death claims for 2020 and 2021 amounting to P570 million, which enabled the release of the same amount the following month.
“As long as DoH can address the deficiencies in the documentary requirements, DBM will immediately process the request to release funds, based on (the) available budget,” Pangandaman concluded. (ai/mtvn)