DBM releases additional ₱888M for health workers' special risk allowance

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 3) — The Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has released an additional ₱888.12 million to fund the special risk allowance (SRA) of private and public healthcare workers who have handled COVID-19 patients.

In a statement on Friday, the agency said the amount was charged from the Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund and Unprogrammed Appropriations in the 2021 budget.

Along with the ₱311.79 million disbursed last week, the DBM has now released around ₱1.2 billion in total to compensate medical frontliners who attended to infected patients from December 20, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

The agency said another ₱407.08 million will be charged from the 2021 Contingent Fund to complete the allowance payments to 117,926 healthcare workers - not exceeding ₱5,000 per month in the covered period. The DBM assured the public of the prompt release of these funds.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier said medical frontliners directly handling COVID-19 patients are entitled to the SRA. However, numerous eligible healthcare workers have complained about not receiving a single centavo.

The DOH has also been under fire after the Commission on Audit flagged the department for "deficiencies" in the management of over ₱67 billion, earmarked for pandemic response. These include billions worth of unobligated funds.

The agency insisted all the funds were accounted for and were either used to buy equipment or to pay healthcare workers. Two days after the DBM released the first batch of SRA that covered 20,000 medical frontliners, the DOH again asked for more money to compensate another 17,000 healthcare workers.