Gov't hospitals violating Bayanihan 2 for converting cash incentives for workers into food items

Published June 3, 2021, 4:22 PM

by Ben Rosario

Anakalusugan Partylist Rep. Mike Defensor on Thursday, June 3 warned government hospitals against violating the Bayanihan 2 law by denying health workers cash incentives granted them by Congress.

Defensor disclosed that he has received complaints from several health workers in various public hospitals that instead of cash, they were told that they will be getting rice and groceries.

He said complainants come from specialty hospitals based in Quezon City. He did not specify which hospitals were liable.

Among the specialty hospitals operated by government in QC are the Philippine Heart Center; National Kidney Transplant Institute, Lung Center of the Philippines and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center.

Under the Bayanihan II law, health workers in government hospitals should have expected to receive P40,000 in additional emoluments last week.

However, hospital officials had reportedly informed beneficiaries that they would get rice and groceries in exchange for the cash they expected.

“Because of the pandemic, the Bayanihan 2 law grants our health personnel a special monthly risk allowance on top of their hazard pay and other benefits. As far as I could remember, the mandate is to give these benefits in cash,” he added.

He lamented that the payment of the additional compensation has already been delayed by several months and would now be given in kind.

“That deprives our health workers of spending flexibility. Since June is school enrollment period, they might want to spend their money on their children’s tuition or school supplies,” Defensor stressed.

He warned health and hospital officials that they would be open to suspicion if they proceeded to convert funds for cash incentives into food items.

“The amount involved is huge even for just one hospital. If for instance, there are 500 hospital personnel entitled to P40,000 each, the sum that would be converted to food items would be P20 million,” he said.

He said responsible officials might even run afoul of the Procurement Law if they undertake procurement of food items through negotiation with suppliers.

At the same time, Defensor urged the DOH to update lawmakers on its compliance with the Bayanihan 2 law.

He said in addition to the special risk allowance, the law grants health workers free life insurance, meals, transportation, accommodation, and additional compensation to those infected by new coronavirus.