Press Release
November 19, 2023

Bong Go to DOH, DBM: Fasttrack release of healthcare workers' Health Emergency Allowance

Senator Christopher "Bong" Go, chairperson of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, has once again called upon the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Department of Health (DOH) to expedite the release of the Health Emergency Allowance (HEA) of the country's healthcare workers.

"Nakikiusap po ako sa ating DOH at DBM, obligasyon po ito ng gobyerno. Pinapaalalahanan ko lang po kayo, kayo po ang implementing arm ng gobyerno, ang DOH at DBM na ibigay po what is due to our healthcare workers," urged Go during the plenary debates for the Department of Health's (DOH) budget on Wednesday, November 15.

"Maliit lang po ito na halaga kumpara po sa kanilang sakripisyo sa panahon ng pandemya. Hindi po natin mararating ito kung hindi po dahil sa kanila. Ang iba po ay nagbuwis ng buhay, ang iba po ay nagkasakit sa panahon ng pandemya," he continued.

Based on reports, the DBM has disbursed P23.6 billion from the current year's budget, comprising P19.6 billion from programmed appropriations and an additional P4 billion from released unprogrammed funds. Despite this disbursement, the total falls below the required amount to fulfill all obligations due to qualified healthcare workers in accordance with the law.

The DOH disclosed that outstanding HEA payments amount to over P62 billion, encompassing arrears accumulated from 2021 to 2023. The DOH has recently sought an extra P25.9 billion from the DBM to settle more outstanding HEA payments.

"According to the data na nakuha ko po, nabanggit na rin po kanina P62 B po mahigit ang arrears since 2021 na dapat na bayaran po sa ating mga healthcare workers. Services rendered na po ito, ibig sabihin pinaghirapan na po ito at pinagpawisan," Go cited.

As the nation grapples with the aftermath of the pandemic, Go underscored that it is imperative that the government prioritize the well-being and livelihood of the country's medical frontliners.

Go is one of the authors and co-sponsors of Republic Act 11712, which grants benefits and allowances to public and private healthcare workers during public health emergencies. He has been a consistent advocate for the welfare of health workers.

In 2019, the legislator authored and co-sponsored RA 11466, commonly known as the Salary Standardization Law 5 (SSL 5). This legislation increased the salaries of all civilian government employees, including medical professionals in the public sector. Additionally, the senator voiced his support for another proposed salary increase for public sector employees.

Go also took measures to secure adequate funding for the implementation of the 2019 Supreme Court decision, which affirmed Section 32 of the Philippine Nursing Act of 2002. This decision established the minimum salary grade (SG) of the Nurse I position at SG-15.

Go also continues to push for other programs and measures to ensure a stronger healthcare sector. During the same plenary debate, Go also pushed for enhanced support for the continued operations of Malasakit Centers, the establishment of more Super Health Centers and the proper implementation of the Regional Specialty Centers Act which he principally sponsored and is one of the authors in the Senate.

He also underscored the importance of adequate budget provision for the Konsulta package of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), and mental health programs, among others.

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