DOH admits 'miscalculations' in health workers' allowance

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines August 17) — The Health Department admitted on Tuesday that not all healthcare workers received their special risk allowance or SRA due to inadvertent "miscalculations" among those attending to COVID-19 patients.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' The Source, Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said 359,501 healthcare workers already benefitted from about ₱8 billion that they released for the SRA on the period of January to June 2021. However, they are still collating data on the remaining workers who were not yet given their due.

"There are inadvertently miscalculations in terms of the SRA that should be given to the healthcare workers. I think, we have asked the different institutions through the regional offices to make sure that the HR of the different institutions will give them at least a number of healthcare workers that (have) not been provided," Vega admitted.

"We will try to collate this and seek again another special budget for the SRA of the different healthcare workers who were not given their due," he added. "We are trying to arrange this kind of process through the regions collating different names and of course validation from the hospitals so that we can actually look for a budget for this."

Vega said of over 350,000 healthcare workers who received their allowance, 54,000 beneficiaries were from private hospitals.

READ: House probe eyed on health workers' risk allowance amid ₱9B fund 'discrepancies' 

Vega said that while he is not offering any excuses for such lapses, he asked for understanding from healthcare workers, noting that "it's very hard for us to validate in the central office or certify health care workers directly working in contact with COVID."

The Health undersecretary also appealed to workers attempting to resign or hold protests to "think of nation-building" while they look for additional resources for the sector.

The Alliance of Health Workers announced on Monday that there will be work stoppage to be led by employees of the 10 biggest private hospitals in Metro Manila and other public hospitals across the country to protest the Health Department's failure to address their grievances.

Meanwhile, a member of an employees' union affiliated with the AHW said her colleagues are considering mass resignation due to the delay in the release of benefits.

The Health Department is in hot water over deficiencies in the management of its ₱67 billion pandemic response funds. State auditors also called out the agency for not spending over ₱59 billion from its 2020 budget.