DOH yet to complete release of meal, transport allowance for health workers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 21) — The Department of Health said Thursday it has not yet completed the distribution of the meal, accommodation and transportation (MAT) allowance for health workers nationwide.

Health Undersecretary and spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire told CNN Philippines' The Source that the DOH already requested for additional funds from the Department of Budget and Management but many hospitals from different regions have failed to submit their complete list of beneficiaries among their workforce.

"We are just completing the list. We have been able to download already most of the funds to our regional offices to provide to our facilities within their jurisdiction," Vergeire said.

"We just need to complete the list kasi may mga additional pong binibigay ang mga hospital sa ngayon (because hospitals are only submitting additional names now)," she said.

"We had an initial list which we thought was complete already but then again, our facilities have been submitting piece-meal, paisa isa," she noted.

Jao Clumia, president of the St. Luke's Medical Center Employees Association, told The Source that their health workers were able to get the promised special risk allowance by the government. However, all of them, including the ones who are directly attending to COVID-19 patients, are still waiting to get their MAT benefits until now.

"Pinagod lang nila yung management namin, pinag-submit lang ng requirements, hanggang ngayon walang dumating," he said.

[Translation: They only wore out our management, they made them submit the necessary requirements but we haven't received anything until now.]

Clumia said over 230 health workers from St. Luke's have already resigned since January.

Earlier this month, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III urged President Rodrigo Duterte to issue an executive order that would allow the release of the MAT allowance of health workers who did not receive the benefit, since this falls under the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act which expired months ago.

In total, ₱2.51 billion is needed to fund the allowances of 423,000 health workers for the period of Sept. 15, 2020 to Dec. 19, 2020. Each will receive ₱2,000 per month.

READ: Duque asks Duterte to issue order for release of health workers’ allowances