MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) has already asked for additional funds for the Covid-19 special risk allowance (SRA) of 17,000 more health care workers.
Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Friday that the initial PHP311 million worth of SRA has been downloaded to DOH regional offices, intended for at least 20,208 health care workers.
"We are already asking for additional batch of money or funds from the Department of Budget and Management so that we may also include those who are not part of the 20,000 health care workers," she said in Filipino.
For front-liners who were not able to submit their requirements before the Aug. 26 deadline, Vergeire said submissions are still open.
"[B]inibigyan pa natin sila ng panahon. Maaari pa po silang magbigay ng submissions sa kanilang facilities and ipapasa sa ating regional offices (We are giving them time to submit their requirements to their facilities which will then forward the documents to our regional offices)," she said.
Vergeire said the DOH also wants to provide SRA to other health care workers not directly assigned to Covid-19 wards, but it is not possible yet due to limitations set by law.
“Kung pwede lang, we will do that. Sa lahat ng sektor and agencies, kami po sa DOH ang kakampi ng health care workers. Health care workers din po kami and kami ay may obligasyon na pangalagaan ang lahat ng health care workers sa ating bansa (If only possible, we will do that. Of all the agencies, we at the DOH are the allies of health care workers because we are health care workers, too, and we have an obligation to take care of them),” Vergeire said.
“(But) as much as we want to give everybody, we are limited by existing laws and policies that we have right now in the country. Nakalagay sa ating batas na directly catering to Covid-19 patients ang binibigyan (It is stated in the law that this is only for those directly catering to Covid-19 patients) and we follow that,” she added.
Under the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act, only public and private health workers "directly catering to or in contact with Covid-19 patients" are entitled to a Covid-19 SRA.
But Vergeire said lawmakers have already made commitments to amend the law and once it is done, the DOH will follow.
"Once the law is amended, we will do that. Wala pong magiging problema sa atin (There will be no problem with us)," she said. (PNA)