House panel OKs mandatory risk allowance for health workers in public health emergencies | Inquirer News
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But Makabayan bloc questions 'singular' allowance

House panel OKs mandatory risk allowance for health workers in public health emergencies

/ 11:21 AM January 24, 2022
INSIDE THE COVID WARD Health-care workers remain busy at a dedicated facility of the Philippine General Hospital. —RICHARD A. REYES

INSIDE THE COVID WARD Health-care workers remain busy at a dedicated facility of the Philippine General Hospital (PGH). —RICHARD A. REYES

MANILA, Philippines — The House committee on appropriations approved Monday a measure granting mandatory special risk allowance (SRA) to public and private health workers, including barangay health workers, during public health emergencies.

During its online meeting, the committee approved the “Public Health Emergency Benefits for Health Workers Act.”

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Under the measure, the national government shall ensure the provision of an SRA for all health workers for every month of service during a state of public health emergency.

The amount given to health workers depend on the risk exposure categorization which are as follows:

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Those deployed in “low risk areas” shall be given at least P3,000;
Those deployed in “medium risk areas” shall be given at least P6,000; and
Those deployed in “high risk areas” shall be given at least P9,000

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

The amount to be received is based on the following:

  • In case of death, P1 million shall be provided to the heirs of the covered individuals;
  • In case of sickness, for a severe or critical case, P100,000 shall be provided to the covered individuals; and,
  • In case of sickness, for a mild or moderate case, P15,000 shall be provided to the covered individuals

Singular allowance?

Initially, the measure also included the provision of an active hazard duty pay amounting to P5,000 every month as well as life insurance and accommodation, transportation, and meal allowance.

However, the committee recommended the scrapping of these additional benefits from the measure. The recommendation was later approved.

With this, the measure is now similar to the Department of Health’s One COVID-19 Allowance (OCA), which the health department described as “more inclusive and responsive.”

Under OCA, benefits previously enjoyed by a limited number of health workers—active hazard duty pay; meals, accommodation and transportation allowance; and SRA—shall be discontinued and will instead be replaced by a single allowance depending on the exposure classification.

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This is now being questioned by Makabayan lawmakers.

“Pero kung titingnan mo, meron nanamang discrimination. Hindi talaga One COVID allowance dahil ang naging one lang dito, inalis na yung ibang allowances,” Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate said.

Zarate and other lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc said they will raise their concerns about the measure once it reaches the plenary level.

EDV

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TAGS: health care workers, House of Representatives, public health emergencies, special risk allowance
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