Health workers decry delayed pandemic allowance

By Joseph Cuevas

Members of the Alliance of Health Workers (AHW) from government-owned and controlled hospitals staged a lunch break protest last Friday at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City calling for the release of the One Covid Allowance 19 (OCA 19) for health workers.

The health workers lambasted the Departmenf of Health (DOH) for being slow in providing the allowance despite having a corresponding budget allocation of P7.92 billion provided under Special Provisions (SP) No. 14 of the DOH budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 General Appropriations Act (GAA).

The protesters said some DOH-retained hospitals are already receiving OCA-19 but hospitals from local government units as well as private hospitals have not been given the benefit.

GOCC hospitals like the Philippine Heart Center only received their benefit last January 2022 while NKTI, the Lung Center of the Philippines and Philippine Children’s Medical Center have received the amount in January to March this year, they revealed.

According to Bonifacio Carmona, AHW national executive officer, “Many from our ranks have been infected with the virus last year but, until now. the DOH cannot provide them with their COVID-19 sickness compensation due to lack of funds.”

In an interview on ABS-CBN Teleradyo earlier, AHW president Robert Mendoza urged the government to prioritize the benefit and welfare of health care workers in accordance with President Ferdinand Marcos Jr’s promise in first State of the Nation Address last month.

The health department meanwhile said that they already requested a fund for April to June 2022 for OCA 19 and other benefits like the health emergency allowance but they are still in a discussion with the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) for fund sources.

The OCA-19 allowance was ordered by former President Rodrigo Duterte last November 2021 under GAA of 2022 and was allocated a budget of P51 billion. #