Go lauds grant of duty allowance to volunteers in swabbing facilities

Published June 26, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Mario Casayuran

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go on Friday lauded the move of the Executive branch to grant duty allowance for volunteers of Mega Swabbing Facilities (MSFs) as the country continues its efforts to contain the dreaded coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Sen. Bong Go (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Bong Go
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)

Go, chairman of the Senate Health and Demography Committee, said this will ensure that volunteering personnel are recognized for their work and sacrifices to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Sa tulong po nitong COVID-19 Duty Allowance, masisiguro natin na ang volunteers natin ay maaalagaan. Maraming salamat po at napakinggan ang ating panawagan bilang pasasalamat rin natin sa sakripisyo at serbisyo para sa bayan ng mga volunteer frontliners,’’ he said. (With the help of this COVID-19 Duty Allowance, we are assured that our volunteers are being protected. We are grateful for the response given to our call for the recognition of the volunteer frontliners’ sacrifices and services for the nation.)

Go had earlier appealed to the executive department to recognize the sacrifices of volunteers who are helping in the fight to combat the pandemic.

In response to his appeal, the Office of the President issued Administrative Order (AO) 31, granting duty allowance to government personnel who volunteer to work in MSFs.

The grant of the Duty Allowance will be given retroactive effect, from the beginning of the operations of the MSFs and other designated facilities.

“Habang sinusubukan nating malampasan ang krisis, siguraduhin rin dapat natin na maalagaan at maprotektahan ang mga ordinaryong kawani ng gobyerno lalo na ang mga kusang nagboluntaryo at nagbuhos ng kanilang oras upang maalagaan at maprotektahan ang kapwa nilang Pilipino,’’ Go said. (While we are trying to overcome the crisis, we should also ensure the protection of the ordinary workers of government, especially those who volunteer and spend their time in caring and protecting their fellow Filipinos.)

“Bigyan natin ng importansya ang kanilang sakripisyo bilang mga frontliners. Sila ang tunay na mga bayani sa laban nating ito,’’ he added. (Let’s give importance to their sacrifices as frontliners. They’re the true heroes in this fight.)

The AO provides that national government agencies and government owned and controlled corporations are now authorized to grant to volunteer personnel who are deployed for work in the MSFs and other designated facilities, located in areas under any form of community quarantine, a COVID-19 Duty Allowance at an amount not exceeding the sum of P500 per day plus a maximum of 25 percent of monthly basic salary (MBS) per person.

The 25 percent MBS shall be pro-rated on the number of days the personnel had been deployed in the designated facility during the quarantine period.

Through the AO, heads of government agencies may grant the COVID-19 Duty Allowance to their personnel without the need for approval by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), provided that the volunteers are occupying regular, contractual, or casual positions, or are engaged through contract of service, job order, or other similar schemes.

The personnel also must have been authorized to physically report for work at any of the MSFs approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on the prescribed official working hours by the head of agency or office.

The total rate of the COVID-19 Duty Allowance will also be based on the number of days an employee physically reports for work.

Personnel who are already entitled to Hazard Pay, including the COVID-19 Hazard Pay under AO No. 26, Hazardous Duty Pay, Hazard Allowance, Special Risk Allowance under AO No. 28, or other similar benefits under existing laws, issuances, rules and regulations, or any combination thereof, will continue to be entitled to such benefits, or the COVID-19 Duty Allowance, whichever is higher.

“Kaya natin isinulong ang Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. Binigyan natin ng kapangyarihan ang Pangulo upang magamit ang pondo ng gobyerno para matulungan at madagdagan ang mga frontliners sa laban natin kontra COVID-19,’’ Go said. (This is the reason why we pushed for the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act. We empowered the President to authorize the utilization of government funds in helping and in the hiring of more frontliners in this fight against the COVID-19.)

Under Congressional Joint Resolution No. 4 (s. 2009), the President may authorize the granting of allowances and benefits to government employees subject to the rates and regulations determined by the budget department.

The government has already put up MSFs in each of Metro Manila’s four sectors: (east) Enderun College, Taguig City; (south) Mall of Asia, Pasay City; (west) Palacio de Maynila, Manila; and (north) Philippine Arena, Bulacan as part of the ongoing effort to ramp up testing capacities in response to the health crisis.

Volunteers qualified for the duty allowance serve as encoders or bar coders and were given training, protective medical equipment, accommodation, food, and transportation.