The House of Representatives on Wednesday night approved on third and final reading a measure granting mandatory continuing benefits to the public, private, and barangay health workers during the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic and other future public health emergencies.

With 202 affirmative votes, zero negative votes, and no abstention, the chamber passed House Bill 10701, which aims to promote the welfare of health workers by providing mandatory benefits with utmost efficiency, especially during a national public health emergency.

Under the measure, all health workers shall receive a special risk allowance (SRA) for every month of service during a state of a public health emergency.

The amount shall be based on the risk exposure categorization as follows: those deployed in “low-risk areas” shall receive at least PHP3,000; those deployed in “medium risk areas” shall be given at least PHP6,000; those deployed in “high-risk areas” shall be given at least PHP9,000.

The bill provides compensation for covered health workers who have contracted Covid-19 and such other disease or illness in the line of duty during a state of a public health emergency.

In case of death, PHP1 million shall be provided to the heirs of the covered individuals.

In case of sickness, PHP100,000 shall be provided to the covered individuals for a severe or critical case, while PHP15,000 shall be provided for a mild or moderate case.

Full Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) coverage shall be granted to health workers who are admitted to a hospital with confirmed Covid-19 infection, and such other disease which is the subject of a public health emergency declaration.

Mandatory testing of health workers every 15 days or as often as necessary shall be fully covered by PhilHealth.

SK kagawad honoraria, CSC eligibility

The House of Representatives also unanimously approved on third and final reading a measure granting Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) kagawads (councilors) honoraria and appropriate certificates of civil service eligibility.

Voting 201-0, the chamber passed House Bill 10698, which entitles SK councilors to honoraria, allowances, and such other emoluments.

The reform also expands the functions of SKs to include skills training, youth employment, environmental protection, values education, and other programs specific to the vulnerabilities affecting young people.

It also mandates that the SK treasurer must have a background in finance or accounting.

Albay Rep. Joey Salceda, the author of the measure, said professionalizing the SK would ensure that its efforts are compensated.

“The SK were very crucial to the fight against Covid-19, as they were among the barangay front-liners that could be mobilized for ayuda (aid) distribution and module distribution,” Salceda said.

The reform also requires that each LGU appoints a local youth development officer to coordinate SK efforts.

“Fifty-two percent of Filipinos are below 24 years of age. The SK allows individuals up to 24 years of age to run for the SK. That means the majority of Filipinos are SK constituents. We should not neglect this crucial level of government,” Salceda said.

The Senate has already approved its own version of the bill. (PNA)

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