DOH employees demand financial benefitsBy Mar S. Arguelles
Inquirer Southern Luzon
LEGAZPI CITY—An employee of the Department of Health (DOH) filed an administrative complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman against Health Secretary Enrique Ona last Friday for his alleged failure to release the financial benefits of thousands of health workers across the country.
Jaime Guerrero, DOH information officer in Bicol and Philippine Public Health Association (PPHA) director, said his complaint against Ona stemmed from a department memorandum issued by the health secretary withholding the release of financial benefits due DOH employees, including their subsistence allowance of P1,650 per month and hazard pay equivalent to 25 percent of their basic pay.
The PPHA is an organization of health workers in government with 15,000 members across the country.
In the complaint, Guerrero said Ona should be held administratively liable for withholding the health workers’ benefits, which was a clear violation of Republic Act No. 7305 or the Magna Carta for Public Health Workers.
In an e-mailed statement on Sunday, Guerrero said Ona issued the questioned memorandum on June 25 without advising or consulting the health workers.
Under the memorandum, the health workers’ benefits would be stopped starting this month.
Guerrero said that since 1999, upon the enactment of RA 7305 and its implementing rules, all health workers were enjoying the monthly subsistence allowance and hazard pay.
The benefits, he said, applied to all public health workers, including those in local government units.
Guerrero also accused Ona of misleading them about the availability of funds, since his order ran counter to the pronouncement of Budget Secretary Florencio Abad on the release of P348.1 million to the DOH to pay for the benefits.
He said the issue of the health workers’ benefits and allowances had been contentious since Ona assumed office.