House appropriations committee chairman Eric Yap recently stated that the bicameral conference committee has made it the top priority to allocate a minimum of P90 billion for health care workers’ special risk allowances (SRA) in next year’s national budget.
Yap explained that the decision to set aside the aforementioned amount came as the Department of Health (DOH) neglected to include the SRA budget in the National Expenditure Program (NEP), despite medical workers’ heavily relying on the wages.
He added that although they were able to place money into an unprogrammed fund, they’re hoping that it translates into the P90 billion in programmable funds.
During a previous House budget hearing, the Department of Health (DOH) stated that they had proposed a budget of P50.4 billion for frontliner benefits, but the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) later downsized it.
A much smaller P4.5 billion was allotted for health care workers’ SRA, from the P65 billion contained within the House’s version of the budget proposal.
Congress is working towards having the realigned budget bill ratified by mid-December.
“It is to the best interest of our people that the 2022 General Appropriations Act be signed by President Duterte before the end of the year so as to avoid a reenacted budget in 2022,” Yap explained.
With continued delays to benefits distribution, numerous frontliners have continued to stage protests, demanding their SRA, hazard pay, as well as meals and transportation allowances, be granted immediately.