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President Rodrigo Duterte has authorized the grant of a Covid-19 special risk allowance (SRA) to private and public health workers directly in contact with coronavirus disease 2019 patients, according to a report by Philippine News Agency.

Duterte on Monday signed Administrative Order No. 36 recognizing the "heroic and "invaluable" contributions of public health workers (HWs) who bravely and unselfishly risk their lives and health by being at the forefront of the national effort to address the public health emergency.

"National government agencies, government-owned or -controlled corporations and local government units are hereby authorized to grant Covid-19 SRA not exceeding PHP5,000 per month to public and private HWs who directly cater to or are in contact with Covid-19 patients," the AO read.

The Covid-19 SRA will be in addition to any Hazard Pay, Hazardous Duty Pay, Hazard Allowance or other similar benefits under existing laws, issuances, rules and regulations, and shall be exempt from income tax.

Private and public HWs refer to medical, allied medical and other personnel who directly provide treatment and support care to Covid-19 patients.

Public HWs are civilian employees occupying regular, contractual or casual positions, whether full or part-time or workers engaged through contract of service (COS) or job order (JO), including duly accredited and registered Barangay Health Workers (BHWs), who are assigned to hospitals, laboratories, or medical and quarantine facilities.

On the other hand, private HWs are assigned in the designated Covid-19 units of hospitals, laboratories or medical quarantine facilities as certified by the Department of Health.

Public and private HWs provide critical and urgent services to respond to the public health emergency during the state of national emergency.

They should report for work at their assigned work stations on the prescribed official working hours, as authorized by the head of agency/office during the state of national emergency, which place them in direct contact with Covid-19 patients.

Under the AO, the grant of Covid-19 SRA will be pro-rated based on the number of days that the public and private HWs physically report for work in a month as certified by the head of the hospital, laboratory, or medical and quarantine facility or his or her authorized representative reckoned from Sept. 15 to until Dec. 19.

All claims for the payment of SRA to public and private HWs must be validated by the DOH and the Department of Budget and Management (DBM), respectively.

However, exempted from the SRA are consultants and experts engaged for a limited period; laborers engaged through job contracts and those paid on piecework basis; student workers and apprentices; and individuals and group of individuals whose services are engaged through COS or JO, including BHWS, who are not assigned to hospitals, laboratories, or medical and quarantine facilities.

The fund required for the implementation of the AO will be sourced from the PHP13.5 billion appropriated under Section 10 (a) of Republic Act 11494 or the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2).

The DBM, in coordination with the DOH, will issue the guidelines necessary for the effective implementation of the AO.

AO No. 36 will take effect immediately following its publication in the Official Gazette or in a newspaper of general circulation.

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