'Unacceptable': Senator slams delay of health workers' benefits

Published August 12, 2021, 4:28 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Joel Villanueva on Thursday, August 12, expressed anew his dismay over the delay in the release of special allowance and other benefits due for health workers.


“Dismayado po tayo sa kinahinatnan ng pondong inilaan ng ating gobyerno para sa mga health workers natin (We are dismayed with how the funds appropriated by the government for our health workers ended up),” Villanueva, chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor, Employment and Human Resources Development, said in a statement.

“Nagpatulog ng salapi ang DOH, imbis na pinambili ng mga makina tulad ng ventilator at X-ray machines, o ibinahagi sa inyong mga frontliners (The Department of Health slept on the funds, instead of purchasing the needed equipment like ventilators and X-ray machines, or distributing them to the frontliners). This is unacceptable,” he added.

Medical frontliners have long been calling for the release of their special risk allowance (SRA), hazard pay and other benefits as mandated by laws amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Alliance of Health Workers, for instance, said in an interview over ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo on Thursday that many have yet to receive their meal, accommodation and transportation benefits; while some were given a measly P400 to P500 SRA.

In its 2020 report, the Commission on Audit (COA) flagged the DOH for “various deficiencies” in handling some P67.32 billion of COVID-19 funds.

Villanueva said that his committee will support an investigation by Senate Blue Ribbon Committee on the DOH’s utilization of funds. He vowed to zero in on the delayed compensation of health workers.

“We call on DOH to explain why our healthcare workers were not given their due benefits,” he appealed.

“We also call on DOLE (Department of Labor and Employment) to be proactive in ensuring that the private sector HCWs are protected and receive the benefits due them,” he added.

President Duterte has ordered the release of all benefits for the health frontliners, his spokesman Harry Roque said on Tuesday, August 10.