DBM: Additional P451.31 million released for health workers’ risk allowance

Robie de Guzman   •   September 29, 2021   •   958

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) on Wednesday said it has released an additional P451.31 million for the Special Risk Allowance (SRA) of eligible public and private healthcare workers (HCWs) in the country.

In a statement, the agency said the fund is for the SRAs of healthcare workers who are directly catering to or are in contact with COVID-19 patients from December 20, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

“Of this amount, P407.08 million was charged from the Contingent Fund while P44.23 million was charged from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund under the FY 2021 General Appropriations Act,” the budget department said.

Overall, the DBM has already released a total of P8.23 billion.

The department added that the budget has benefitted about 499,116 healthcare workers who each received an SRA not exceeding P5,000 per month for the covered period.

The SRA is an additional benefit received by healthcare workers, apart from the existing compensations as prescribed under the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers and the DOH-DBM Joint Circular No. 1, series of 2016, the DBM said.

Senate cuts NTF-ELCAC budget to fund health worker allowance

Maris Federez   •   November 10, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate Committee on Finance has cut the proposed 2022 budget of the National Task Force to End Local Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC), Senator Sonny Angara who chaired the panel told reporters Tuesday.

Angara said the Php24 billion from the total Php28 billion budget will be transferred and used to fund the special risk allowance (SRA) of health workers.

“We cannot make a judgement really if the program has been a success or not because we’ve not received any very little information on the actual projects. Ang sinasabi dinownload na yung pondo. The DBM tells us binigay na nila yung pondo sa mga bara-baranggay or the municipality or provinces. […] ‘Yun ang inaantay namin. Asan na yung mga reports on the projects. Wala, wala pang binibigay samin,” Angara said.

Some senators expressed support for the move.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon thanked Angara for supporting his advocacy to realign the NTF-ELCAC’s budget.

“I support and congratulate Sen. Sonny Angara for the cut in the NTF-ELCAC budget. I thank him for supporting my advocacy since last year to realign this NTF ELCAC budget which duplicates other programs, and is clearly in the nature of pork barrel funds,” Drilon said.

Drilon further called for the slashing of the alleged Php2 billion hidden budget in other government agencies that will purportedly be given to the anti-insurgency task force.

“He should also cut another Php2 billion hidden in the budget of other agencies, such as TESDA, for NTF ELCAC,” he said.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson also expressed his support for the budget cut, noting that the officials must be held accountable if misuse of the budget was committed.

“Not only do I support the slash in the NTF-ELCAC’s proposed budget for 2022, if such misuse was indeed committed – the officials concerned must be made accountable, if not criminally liable,” he said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

DOLE denies deployment ban on health care workers

Maris Federez   •   November 9, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE)  has denied reports of a deployment ban on health care workers, particularly nurses.

In a statement, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III clarified that since the deployment cap of 6,500 has already been reached, the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) announced the temporary suspension of deployment.

However, there are exemptions to the said ban.

“We have already reached the current ceiling of 6,500 on the deployment of health care workers. However, OFWs under the Balik Manggagawa, government-to-government arrangements, and those who will be deployed in the United Kingdom are exempted from the suspension,” Bello said.

The labor chief also said that the lifting of the suspension is subject to the evaluation by concerned government agencies of the current situation on the deployment of healthcare workers.

“The Labor Department will confer the matter with the Professional Regulation Commission, the Philippines Nurses Association and the Department of Health should there be a need for the increase of say, another 1,500 in the existing cap,” Bello said. —/mbmf

Senate panel approves COA, Ombudsman proposed 2022 budget

Maris Federez   •   October 13, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The Senate Committee on Finance on Tuesday approved the proposed budget of two constitutional bodies for 2022.

Senator Sonny Angara called the budget deliberation of the Commission on Audit and the Office of the Ombudsman the shortest so far for this year, as the panel gave its approval under 15 minutes of the hearing.

The committee hearing for COA’s proposed budget of P14.4 billion only took 10 minutes and was soon endorsed for the nod of the plenary.

“No questions on the part of the Chair. […] this is probably the shortest budget meeting of this 2022 budget,” Angara said during the hearing.

Indicated in COA’s proposed budget is its request for additional funds for personnel services for the third tranche of the pay adjustments under the salary standardization law for government employees.

COA also requested a budget increase for the construction of provincial satellite auditing offices and provision for the operational expenses of these branches.

“We have written a letter to the committee asking for additional budgetary support primarily on the MOOE (Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses) […] and possibly if the budget is flexible enough, maybe additional capital outlay,” said COA chairperson Michael Aguinaldo.

COA has, so far, completed the construction of 54 satellite offices, and 17 more under construction.

Meanwhile, it only took the Senate panel 13 minutes to finish the hearing of the P3.9 billion budget of the Office of the Ombudsman that was recommended by the Department of Budget and Management (DBM).

Ombudsman Samuel Martires appealed for additional funding for its operational budget that was cut by almost half by the DBM.

“We’re not asking too much. If it will be hard for the Senate to give us the proposed budget for 2022, then we just would like to request that at least the budget that was given to us for 2021 be retained,” Martires said.

The Senate is currently on recess and is expected to resume on November 8 wherein senators are expected to start the deliberation of the national budget in the plenary. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

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