3 February 2022 – Secretary Jeremiah B. Belgica, Director General of the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA), welcomed the passage of a bill granting mandatory benefits to all health workers during public health emergencies.

House Bill No. 10701 or the Public Health Emergency Benefits for Health Workers Act will mandate the provision of a monthly special risk allowance (SRA) for all health workers in both public and private hospitals, including barangay health workers, during a state of public health emergency.

At least P3,000 will be given to health workers deployed in “low-risk areas,” P6,000 for those in “medium risk areas,” and P9,000 for those in “high-risk areas.”

The proposed law was approved on final reading with 202 affirmative votes, zero negative vote, and no abstention, on Monday, 31 January 2022.

ARTA Sec. Belgica, who led meetings with health worker groups, interested private groups, and national government agencies to hasten the processing of the SRA, thanked lawmakers for approving the measure.

He said it would boost the morale of the country’s “heroic” frontline health workers in the ongoing fight against COVID-19.

“Once this is enacted into law, there will be a legal basis for the SRA and funding should be set aside for it. With this, we expect that there will no longer be delays in the distribution of benefits in the future,” he said.

The passage of the House bill comes shortly after the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) released P1.19 billion to pay the SRA of 63,812 health workers from 20 December 2020 to 30 June 2021.

The allotment was charged against the contingent fund in the 2021 national budget worth P4.51-trillion, whose validity was extended by Congress until the end of the year.

The ARTA chief vowed to continue working to ensure that health workers are being given their due amid the pandemic.