Health workers from GOCC-hospitals complain about delayed COVID-19 allowance
MANILA, Philippines — Several health workers from healthcare institutions that are classified as government-owned and controlled corporations (GOCCs) are yet to receive their benefits from the One COVID-19 Allowance (OCA).
This was according to members of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) chapters at the Philippine Heart Center (PHC) and National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI), who staged protests on Friday to call on the Department of Health (DOH) to immediately provide and distribute the OCA of health workers.
They said health workers from PHC have so far only received their OCA benefits for the month of January this year while health workers from NKTI and other GOCC-hospitals like the Lung Center of the Philippines and the Philippine Children’s Medical Center have so far just received their OCA benefits for the months of January to March.
“It is so discouraging and exasperating that when it comes to our much deserved COVID-19 benefits, the DOH and this government always [have] no budget to allocate,” Salome Ejes, acting president of the AHW-PHC chapter, said in a statement.
“In this time of public health emergency, the DOH must act accordingly. Our One COVID-19 Allowance (OCA) must be provided to us in a timely manner,” she added.
Meanwhile, AHW-NKTI chapter president Edwin Pacheco and AHW national executive officer Bonifacio Carmona said the allowance is important to many health workers who have been working despite the persistent threats of COVID-19 to their well-being.
“The COVID benefit is a badly needed compensation for us health workers who face the daily threat of COVID-19 virus,” Pacheco said.
“Many from our ranks have been rapidly infected with the virulent virus last year but until now the DOH cannot provide them with their COVID-19 sickness compensation due to lack of funds. Kung gaano kami kabilis tamaan ng COVID-19 virus ay ganoon naman ka bagal ang pagrelease ng aming COVID-19 compensation.” Carmona added.
Last May, the DOH said that funding for the OCA amounting to more than P86.5 million have already been released. The DOH also said that even healthcare workers from private hospitals may seek assistance with the centers for health and development if they would find it difficult to obtain their OCA.
The DOH also reminded hospitals to start liquidating their OCA fund and submit all documents needed for auditing.
But the AHW asserted that the P86.5 million released since January appears to be just a partial amount because P7.92 billion was supposedly allocated for health workers’ benefits.
“In February 18, 2022, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released the appropriated amount of P7.92 billion to the Department of Health (DOH) for the provision of OCA to 526,727 eligible public and private healthcare workers (HCWs) and non-HCWs involved in COVID-19 response,” the AHW said.
“While health workers of some DOH-retained hospitals are already receiving their One COVID-19 Allowances, GOCC hospitals’ health workers are suffering from delayed payment of their allowances. Worse, health workers from Local Government Units (LGU) and private hospitals are not receiving their benefits,” it further claimed.
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