Full distribution of front-liners’ hazard pay assured

Malacanang has assured the Duterte administration will make sure that all front-line health care workers would receive their hazard pay and other benefits due them.

Presidential Spokesperson, Secretary Harry Roque gave the assurance, as he apologized for the supposed delay in the release of hazard pay for medical front-liners.

“We apologize, but the administration of President Duterte will not renege on its promise. All benefits that our new heroes, our medical front-liners, should receive will be given to them,” Roque said in a virtual presser.

Roque made the assurance after several medical front-liners celebrated National Health Workers’ Day on May 7 with a protest action due to the supposed low wages and delay in the release of benefits more than a year since the Covid-19 pabdemic hit the country.

He assured health care workers the government is doing its best to ensure the unhampered distribution of their hazard pay. “While there are some who hold rallies to get their benefits, which is just right because it is part of free speech, the government, by and large, is giving what should be given to our medical front-liners,” he said.

He said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has guaranteed that the funds which remain unspent under Republic Act 11469 or the Bayanihan to Heal As One Act, otherwise known as Bayanihan 1, would be earmarked for the health workers’ hazard pay.

“He said the balance that has yet to be released under Bayanihan 1, which is about PHP1.3 billion, would be channeled to the front-liners’ receivables by way of hazard pay and other benefits that some of them have yet to receive,” he said referring to Duque.

In November last year, President Duterte signed  Administrative Order (AO) 35 authorizing the grant of active hazard pay of up to P3,000 per month to human resources for health (HRHs).

Front-line HRHs refer to medical, allied medical, and other personnel in the public sector who are involved in the national health care response to mitigate Covid-19 transmission and prevent further loss of lives.

The President also issued AO 36, which grants Covid-19 special risk allowance (SRA) of up to P5,000 per month to private and public health workers with direct exposure to Covid-19 patients.

The SRA will be in addition to any hazard pay, hazardous duty pay, hazard allowance, and similar benefits under existing laws, issuances, rules and regulations, and shall be exempt from income tax.