Senators slam lack of funding for health worker benefits in 2022 national budget

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 9, 2021   •   297

MANILA, Philippines—Several senators are questioning the lack of funding for healthcare worker benefits in the 2022 national budget.

Senator Franklin Drilon, during the briefing of the Development Budget Coordination Committee on Thursday (September 9), urged concerned agencies to “fix budget priorities” and lamented that the budget for next year is not in line with the reality being faced by the country.

The senator questioned why there is no allotted budget for the Special Risk Allowance (SRA) and hazard pay for healthcare workers while the National Task Force to End Communist Armed Conflict (NTF-ELCAC) has a P28 billion budget. He also questioned why the P45 billion budget for COVID-19 vaccine booster shots is placed under unprogrammed funds.

“We see that the public health is not given priority that it deserves,” he said. “Are we saying that insurgency has become a bigger, more dangerous threat than COVID-19 and its fast mutating variants?”

Marami pong pagkukunan ng budget itong kampanya laban sa insurgency. Hindi po kailangang maghiwalay pa tayo ng 28 billlion (We can get budget for the campaign against insurgency, there is no need to allot P28 billion for it) in the face of all these difficulties that we are facing, and in the face of the fact that our health personnel are not being given special risk allowance,” he added.

Senator Francis ‘Kiko’ Pangilinan and Senator Risa Hontiveros believe the budget should be fixed in order to address the threat of the COVID-19 Delta variant.

Hontiveros likewise lamented that there is no allotted budget for healthcare workers.

Sa kabila ng kali-kaliwang panawagan at panaghoy ng ating healthcare workers na maibigay na ang kanilang SRA, gaano kagarapal na sa budget sa susunod na taon ay ni singkong duling, walang inilaan para sa kanilang SRA, hazard pay, allowance sa meals, accommodations at transportation? Bigyan naman natin ng dignidad ang ating medical frontliners (Amid the calls and cries our healthcare workers for their SRA, its shameless how next year’s budget has no allotment for their SRA, hazard pay, meal allowance, accommodation, and transportation. Let us at least give our medical frontliners some dignity),” Hontiveros said in a statement.

Senator Joel Villanueva said that the Executive branch should submit an errata to provide benefits for healthcare workers.

He added that a P23 billion budget is needed to double the SRA and active hazard duty pay of around 120,000 healthcare workers in private and public hospitals.

Kung seryoso po ang ating gobyerno sa pagbibigay ng SRA at AHDP para sa ating mga healthcare workers, ang gagawin lang naman ng DBM at DOH ay magpadala ng budget errata sa Senado at sa House of Representatives, (If our government is serious in providing SRA and AHDP to our healthcare workers, the Department of Budget and Management and Department of Health can simply send a budget errata to the Senate and House of Representatives),” he said.

Meanwhile, Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Carlos Dominguez said it was him who proposed to include COVID-19 booster shots in the budget, however, experts panels and health authorities said the country still does not need booster shots for COVID-19.

“I had a big argument with them and in fact the result is that it is actually the budget. Had we not argued with that, it would not even be in the budget because they said it’s not yet proven, it’s not yet approved, etc. I said I don’t care I said I just want to make sure that we have an item in the budget that we can activate if and when the health authorities decide that it is required,” he said.

The DBM reiterated that there is a need to allot budget for NTF-ELCAC.

“It will actually provide development funds for barangays which have been recently freed of insurgency or leftist elements. If government will not intervene, then who will? That’s the reason why we also assert that the NTF-ELCAC is important. However we defer to the wisdom of Senate, House if they find that these reasons are not sufficient,” according to DBM Officer-in-Charge Usec. Tina Marie Rose Canda.

The Malacañang has yet to provide a response to the senators’ concerns. AAC (with reports from Harlene Delgado)

Salceda appeals for incentives for barangays reaching herd immunity

Maris Federez   •   January 4, 2022

MANILA, Philippines — House Ways and Means Committee chairperson and Albay 2nd District Representative Joey Salceda believes that barangay health workers (BHW) must be given bonuses and incentives.

Salceda stressed that these barangay workers are underpaid considering that they are the backbones of the local government’s COVID-19 response.

“Barangay Health Workers should also have bonuses and incentives for bringing in certain percentages of unvaccinated individuals to the vaccination stations. After all, they are extremely underpaid and are the backbone of local COVID-19 response,” Salceda said.

Barangay health workers are the ones bringing unvaccinated individuals to the vaccination centers so that the barangay will be able to meet the needed percentage of the population to achieve herd immunity.

Salceda, who is also the House Economic Stimulus and Recovery Cluster chairperson, said this was factored in during the deliberation of the 2022 national budget, where Php50 billion was allocated to special risk allowance (SRA).

Salceda further said that he will push for the inclusion of BHWs in the SRA guidelines.

Meanwhile, Senior Citizen Partylist Representative Rodolfo Ordones appealed to the local government units (LGU) to allow the elderly to vaccination centers even without prior online registration.

Ordones said there are still LGUs that insist that all who want to get inoculated must register online.

“Still, some LGUs insist on online registration for all seeking COVID vaccines. Please, let the seniors, PWDs and A3 get ahead because they are at higher risks of suffering and death than most others,” Ordones said. —/mbmf (from the report of UNTV Correspondent Nel Maribojoc)

2022 national budget, inaasahang lalagdaan ni Pangulong Duterte sa Disyembre 30 — Malakanyang

Robie de Guzman   •   December 29, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Sa December 30, araw ng Huwebes, na inaasahang malalagdaan ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang 2022 national budget.

Ayon kay acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles, kasama sa schedule ng Pangulo ang paglagda sa pambansang pondo na nagkakahalaga ng P5.024 trilyon.

“Inaasahan natin na tomorrow, naka-schedule po ang pagpirma ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ng 2022 GA (general appropriations) law, as promised. The president will sign this very important measure na ‘di sasapit ang December 31,” ani Nograles.

Oras namang mapirmahan ang national budget, maaari nang magamit ang pondo para sa Odette recovery efforts sa January 3, 2022, ayon sa Malakanyang. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

2022 national budget, patuloy pang binubusisi ni Pangulong Duterte — Malakanyang

Robie de Guzman   •   December 28, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — Patuloy pang binubusisi ng Office of the President ang 2022 national budget kaya hindi natuloy ang nakatakda sanang ceremonial signing nito ngayong Martes.

Pagtitiyak ni acting Presidential Spokesperson at Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, agad pipirmahan ni Pangulong Rodrigo Duterte ang P5.024 trilyong panukalang pondo oras na matapos ang ginagawang review.

“We would want to assure and we assure the public that the budget will be signed. Pipirmahan po ni Pangulong Duterte ang budget for 2022 bago pa man sumapit ang December 31,” ani Nograles.

Aniya, kailangang mapirmahan ang pondo upang matiyak na hindi mag-ooperate ang pamahalaan sa ilalim ng re-enacted budget sa susunod na taon.

Oras na mapirmahan din ang national budget, sinabi ng Malakanyang na maaari nang magamit ang pondo para sa Odette recovery efforts sa Enero. (mula sa ulat ni Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

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