DBM releases ₱7.92B for health workers’ One COVID-19 Allowance

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 17) — The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released the partial ₱7.92 billion to cover the payment of healthcare workers’ One COVID-19 Allowance (OCA), which will replace the special risk allowance.

The DBM on Thursday said the amount is now with the Department of Health (DOH) and will benefit 526,727 eligible public and private employees involved in the COVID-19 health care response.

The government earlier said non-medical workers in health facilities, such as janitors and security guards, will also receive the OCA.

Of the newly released amount, the DBM said ₱4.5 billion is intended for 100,313 DOH plantilla personnel in public hospitals, offices, and rehabilitation centers, including those in military and state university hospitals.

The remaining ₱3.42 billion is for 426,414 healthcare workers reporting in local government units and private health facilities, among others.

The DOH has allocated a total of ₱50 billion for the provision of the OCA program this year.

Under the program, frontliners will receive benefits depending on their level of COVID-19 exposure, which is classified into three categories: low risk, moderate risk, and high risk.

Specifically, workers identified as high risk – which include those directly catering to infected patients – shall receive ₱9,000 a month.

Those under the moderate risk and the low risk categories, meanwhile, are entitled to a monthly allowance of ₱6,000 and ₱3,000 respectively.

The government said the benefit shall be given in full, provided that the healthcare worker reports to work for at least 96 hours a month. Otherwise, the amount shall be prorated.

“The DBM will continue to ensure the timely and prudent approval of the budget releases to ensure the welfare of the frontliners as we bounce back from the impacts of the health crisis,” the department said.

Earlier, the Alliance of Health Workers has opposed the OCA program, calling it “discriminatory” and “divisive.”

It also said the benefits are not enough and appealed that the special risk allowance and active hazard duty pay still be granted to frontliners.