DOH seeks more funds for special risk allowance of 17K health workers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 27) — Days after the government released ₱311.79 million for the unpaid special risk allowance (SRA) of health workers, the Department of Health on Friday said it has made another request for funds.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the new request sent to the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) will be for COVID-19 medical frontliners who weren't included in the first batch, which covered more than 20,000 healthcare workers. Over 17,600 frontliners have submitted requirements to receive their benefits, but submissions are still open, she added.

"We have already submitted an additional fund request from the Department of Budget and Management to cover for those who were not covered by the ₱311 million na una na nating ni-request [that we first requested]," Vergeire said in a media briefing. "Kung sakaling meron pang magsusumite sa regional offices and they will be declared eligible, tayo ay magrerequest pa rin patuloy sa DBM para makumpleto natin ito."

[Translation: If more workers will submit their requirements to the regional offices and they are declared eligible, we will request more funds from the DBM to complete these.]

Medical frontliners directly handling COVID-19 patients are entitled to the special risk allowance, but many health workers have complained they did not receive a single centavo despite attending to infected individuals.

The Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) on Friday said they are giving the DOH an ultimatum in releasing their long-overdue benefits, or else there will be a mass walkout and other forms of protests on September 1.

AHW President Robert Mendoza said private and public health workers should receive their special risk allowance by August 31, which is the deadline set by President Rodrigo Duterte. Aside from the SRA, health workers are also asking for meal and food allowance.