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DBM prepares special risk allowance for health workers

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The Department of Budget and Management is set to issue an order for the "special risk allowance" for public health workers battling the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.

In President Rodrigo Duterte's first weekly report submitted to Congress, the Covid-19 Special Risk Allowance would be provided in addition to the hazard pay granted under the Magna Carta of Public Health Workers.

On March 24, Duterte signed the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act (RA 11469) into law, which gives him special powers for a limited time to help his administration address the Covid-19 crisis in the country.

Aside from the special risk allowance, the law also provides around PHP100,000 worth of cash aid to public and private health workers who may contract “severe” Covid-19 infection while in the line of duty, while PHP1 million will be given to those who will die while fighting the coronavirus.

The report noted that the Department of Foreign Affairs has been assisting in the facilitation of in-kind donations of health products from four foreign governments, one international organization, and 12 private companies, individuals, and civil society organizations.

"The DFA closely engages with foreign governments, international agencies, and private donors abroad in providing critical information on the medical supplies and equipment needed by the DOH (Department of Health)," the report reads.

In a televised public address late Monday night, Duterte bared that the government is deploying the resources of government to provide front line health workers with “everything they require so they can save as many lives as possible”.

“We are now procuring medical supplies, devices, and personal protective equipment,” he said.

He said about one million medical protective items are being acquired right now, with the government and the private sector working together to purchase or produce the necessary quantities.

Aside from donations to add to its stockpile, the Bureau of Customs (BOC) is finalizing a plan to donate seized personal protective equipment (PPE) to private hospitals.

The government is also increasing its capacity to test more broadly to take a fuller and more accurate picture of the spread of Covid-19 in the country, Duterte added.

According to the first weekly report, the Department of Science and Technology has allocated PHP53.2 million to fund the University of the Philippines (UP)-developed diagnostic kits to detect Covid-19.

A total of 1,300 test kits will be manufactured for field implementation and distribution to the hospitals while the remaining kits will be sold for PHP1,300 per kit, cheaper than the ones used at hospitals that cost about PHP8,000.

Recognizing their sacrifices, Duterte thanked health workers and assured them that their efforts will be rewarded.

“Your heroism will not be forgotten. Saludo kami sa inyo (We salute you),” he said during the public address.

He also praised health workers who lost their lives while fighting Covid-19.

May mga doktor na, mga nurses, attendants, namatay. Sila ‘yung nasawi ang buhay para lang makatulong sa kapwa (There are doctors, nurses, attendants who have died. They are the ones who lost their lives to help others). It would be an honor to die for your country, I assure you,” he said.

The executive branch is required to submit a report to Congress every Monday on how Duterte's special powers are used. The report must include the amount and corresponding utilization of funds used, augmented, reprogrammed, reallocated, and realigned.

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