The regional Department of Health (DOH) confirmed in a town hall meeting Thursday that Special Risk Allowances (SRA) funds for Palawan health workers have been forwarded to their respective local government units (LGUs).
Only one town, Balabac, has yet to download its SRA funds because its LGU has not yet signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) with the DOH, according to Field Health Operation Head Baj Datinguinoo.
LGUs and hospitals who did not meet the Wednesday deadline for filing their list of SRA recipients can still submit their lists to the regional DOH, Datinguinoo added.
“Kaya na-discuss kanina sa town hall, marami pang mga hospitals na hindi na umabot sa deadline kahapon [Wednesday]. Sinabi naman na kung puwedeng ihabol today, mag-oovertime na lang kami para maisubmit namin agad sa central office,” she said in an interview.
She added that the total amount downloaded for Palawan, which came in two tranches, was P83.7-million. The amount covered two periods – September to December 2020, and January to June 30, 2021. The first tranche was reportedly downloaded and January and already claimed by eligible healthcare workers.
Under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2), eligible medical workers are entitled to receive SRA and hazard pay, on top of their usual benefits under existing laws. However, because the Bayanihan 2 expired on June 30, 2021.
“Hahanapan na lang daw ng funds ang mga hindi na umabot, ‘yon ang naging decision,” said Dainguinoo.
Early this week, President Rodrigo Duterte gave an ultimatum to the Department of Budget Management (DBM) to release P311-million worth of SRA funds to the DOH by August 31. This came after several healthcare workers and workers’ groups protested and threatened mass resignations if their SRAs and other COVID-19 benefits were released.
This is the first town hall meeting held by the regional DOH aimed to address questions and clarifications about the SRAs. The office also recently came under scrutiny by the Puerto Princesa City Council over confusion barangay health workers (BHWs) eligibility to receive SRAs, which reportedly caused confusion and disappointment among city BHWs.