A lawmaker urged Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III to give back the Special Risk Allowance (SRA) of medical fronliners battling the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.
SRA is a one-time cash grant equivalent to equivalent to a maximum of 25% of basic salary for health workers who have great exposure to health risks and physical hardships in line with their duty during the COVID-19 crisis.
In a virtual Senate hearing on Tuesday, Senator Risa Hontiverus pointed out that DOH issued Department Memorandum No. 2020-0285 last June 23, 2020 suspending the release of SRA. The Memo was issued under the Office of the Secretary and signed by Undersecretary for administration and financial management Roger Tong-An.
Based on the Memo, SRA was suspended due to differences in the definition of “public health workers (PHWs) in President Duterte’s Administrative Order No. 28 and the Republic Act. No. 7305, or the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers.”
Duque said that he is not aware of the Memo even though it was issued using his office’s letter head.
“Yes, I will certainly address this expeditiously and it’s not clear to me why this was suspended by Usec. Roger Tong-An,” Duque said.
Hontiveros revealed that a nurse infected with COVID-19 sent her a copy of the Memo, and urged Duque to reverse the it.
“This was brought to my attention by a DOH nurse who is now COVID-positive. Wala pa silang SRA hanggang ngayon dahil sinuspend ng opisina ninyo. Maawa naman tayo sa ating health workers at kahit papano ay suklian natin ang kanilang sakripisyo,” Hontiveros said.
Duque promised that he will look into the matter but did not commit to revoke it.
“Yes, your honor, I will address this even now I’ll make an urgent call to address this,” Duque said. “I will attend to this immediately,” he said.