Villanueva: At least ₱23 B needed to double SRA, hazard pay of health workers

Published September 9, 2021, 2:39 PM

by Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Senator Joel Villanueva said the government would need an at least P23 billion more to fund the doubling of special risk allowance (SRA) and hazard pay for health workers.


Villanueva made the estimate as he asked the executive department to submit to Congress a budget errata that would specify the amount needed to fund the grant of SRA and other benefits for medical frontliners.

“Kung seryoso po ang ating gobyerno sa pagbibigay ng SRA and AHDP para sa ating mga healthcare workers, ang gagawin lang naman ng DBM at DOH ay magpadala ng budget errata sa Senado at sa House of Representatives (If our government is serious in giving our healthcare workers SRA and active hazard duty pay, the Department of Budget and Management and the Department of Health only have to send the Senate and House of Representatives a budget errata),” Villanueva said.

If no document is forthcoming, then it becomes “clear as day” that the executive branch “is pulling the plug” on the extra pay given to medical frontliners for risky duty, the chairperson of the Senate labor committee said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III previously told members of the House that no funds were allocated in the 2022 proposed budget for the SRAs.

According to Duque, the DOH would need P50.4 billion to fund the SRA, AHDP and other pandemic duty allowances for the entire 2022.

But Villanueva said the amount seemed to be in the “high end of the estimate.”

Earlier, the senator called for the increase in SRA and hazard pay, which is currently set at P5,000 and P3,000 per month, respectively.

Villanueva estimated that if a total of 120,000 private and public health workers were to receive at P16,000 a month, which is double the P8,000 for the combined SRA and AHDP, the government would need P23 billion more next year.

“Kalahati ng estimate ni Secretary Duque,” he noted.

Villanueva also urged his fellow legislators to remedy the absence of funds in their deliberations of the 2022 budget.

Another way to ensure the grant of SRAs, he added, could be through the proposed Bayanihan 3 law, which inlcudes other programs to combat the pandemic.

Congress could likewise pass a “stand-alone bill” dealing with the subject of allowances, Villanueva proposed.

“One thing that should be impressed upon them is that the virus will still be with us next year. If that is a certainty, then so must the allowances of brave frontliners who will be fighting it,” he pointed out.