THE Department of Health yesterday reiterated its assurance that the reported delay in delivery of benefits to health workers is being addressed.
Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said they are conducting a thorough investigation with the aim of correcting lapses.
“We are taking the issue of delayed benefits very seriously. When matters like this come to our attention, we conduct thorough investigations and concerned offices are made to answer to the Secretary and develop solutions to improve the delivery of services and expedite processes. As health workers, many of us in the DOH—including members of our Executive Committee—have experienced working on the ground, in our health facilities, which is why we understand the challenges in the frontlines—being overworked, underpaid, demoralized, and in this pandemic, even more vulnerable,” he said.
Duque also called on healthcare workers to report institutions that have not released their benefits, and to write a complaint and support it with evidence so that an investigation can be done.
“To our healthcare workers, please let us know which health facilities have not yet released your benefits and file a written complaint to the DOH – Complaints Handling Unit at email@example.com with the name of the concerned health facility, the incident and supporting evidences so we can properly address your concerns,” the health chief said.
“It is the Department of Health’s mission to lead the country in creating a productive, resilient, equitable and people-centered healthcare system. Integral to this is our healthcare workers — we cannot take their welfare out of the equation in realizing the goals of a Universal Health Care system, especially in the midst of a national state of public health emergency where they are most needed,” he added.
Recently, some nurses in the country reiterated their call for a timely rollout of salaries and other promised benefits including hazard pay and special risk allowances. The Filipino Nurses United, lamented the “unjust” treatment of health workers, adding that they continue to receive complaints of delayed wages and benefits.
A Senate public hearing has also heard that more than 16,000 medical frontliners have yet to receive the hazard pay appropriated for them under the now-expired Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.
Duque said the Active Hazard Duty Pay (AHDP) and Special Risk Allowances (SRA) under Bayanahinan 1 are based on the savings of hospitals and only covers frontliners who reported for duty during the Enhanced Community Quarantine from March 15 to May 16. Considering that other hospitals do not have savings, DOH sub-allotted P51.9 million which has been released to 17 DOH-retained hospitals who requested additional funding.
He added that for Bayanihan 2, the AHDP and SRA are allotted through the Administrative Order 35 and 36 issued by the Office of the President last Nov. 16. Subsequently, DOH and DBM issued Joint Circulars 1 and 2 last November 25 which provides for the P9.2 billion sub-allotment to DOH-retained hospitals, Centers for Health Development and the Ministry of Health of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao for the period of September to December was released this week.