‘Bring back 76 Billion budget for backwages’ SOLON CALLS ON COLLEAGUES TO RESTORE P76B FOR COVID-19 FRONTLINERS
In a statement made Monday, ANAKALUSUGAN Party-list Representative Ray Florence T. Reyes expressed disappointment on the decision of the Department of Budget and Management’s (DBM) to slash the Department of Health’s (DOH) 76-billion-peso budget for arrears for health workers and urged fellow lawmakers for reallocation.
“It is disappointing that DBM cut the health agency’s budget for arrears payment. Next year should have been an opportune time to pay back our health workers who continue to offer themselves before the altar of public health and public service,” Rep. Reyes stated.
“This is something we need to focus attention on. Disregarding compensation simply means the government is indifferent to their sacrifices. I, therefore, call on my colleagues to support the restoration of this item and stand with me in promoting health workers’ rights,” Rep. Reyes appealed.
During the appropriations hearing of the House of Representatives, DOH Officer-in-Charge Secretary Ma. Rosario S. Vergeire bared that the agency proposed 76 billion pesos for payments to healthcare workers who served during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic between 2021 and 2022. But only 19 billion was granted by DBM which they project will only be enough for three months of backwages.
Vergeire added there are still about 55, 000 who have not received their Special Risk Allowance (SRA). Due this, the department has sent an additional funding request to DBM asking for at least 1.045 billion pesos.
“The department is currently evaluating the propriety of the claims. But we have identified potential budget sources to cover the request,” DBM Director for Budget and Management Bureau Sofia C. Yanto-Abad responded.
From December 2020 to June 2021, DBM released a total of 11.856 billion pesos in funding for the SRA of health workers. But various health worker groups complained with the late and slow disbursement of funds.