ONE-YEAR DELAY: Iloilo health workers will get Covid stipend in March – DOH

By John Noel E. Herrera

The Department of Health (DOH)-6 assured all healthcare workers (HCWs) in Iloilo province that they would receive their One Covid-19 Allowance (OCA) in March 2023.

But DOH-6 clarified that only the March 2022 OCA will be released, as they are still preparing to check the documents for the April 2022 OCA.

HCWs in Iloilo have been demanding their unreleased OCA for March to June 2022.

“Napreparar naman ang payroll for checking, again the usual process naman nga i-check ang DTR (daily time record) and supporting documents, but rest assured ang March tapos na gid sya and hopefully, eventually ma-credit dayon this week or next week,” DOH-6 Human Resource Management officer Genevieve Cadornigara said in an interview with Bombo Radyo Iloilo.

The DOH issued the advisory after some healthcare workers again complained about the delayed release of their allowances.

In January 2023, DOH-6 said it would release the OCA “soon”, but the agency did not specify the date.

Healthcare workers have been waiting for almost a year for their allowance, as of the writing.

“Nag press release sila (DOH-6), nangako sila sa Capitol nga Jan 30 (2022), ma-release nila ang OCA namon for March, April, pero tapos na Pebrero, wala man gihapon,” health care worker Jay (real name withheld) complained in a radio interview.

The extended delay in the release of stipends was due to incomplete documents that were needed for the processing and releasing, and the number of recipients, according to Cadornigara.

“May mga attachments nga gina-require kaisa, mga DTRs, syempre gina-isa-isa man na namon as to the number of days and the time nga nagsulod kag nag-officially report to work ang isa ka healthcare worker kag hindi lang man abi isa ka facility ang gina-facilitate namon nga ma-releasan kundi bilog nga Western Visayas, kag hindi lang private nga hospitals, pati public, up to the level of RHU (rural health unit) ang amon pag-release,” she explained.

But some HCWs said they submitted their documents way back in August 2022, and they could have processed the lacking documents earlier if DOH-6 had immediately told them about lacking papers.

“August (2022) pa lang na, na-comply dun na sang Iloilo Provincial Capitol sa DOH, galing ang DOH daw kulang sa records management, permi lang kulang, amu man na last time ang problema, kulang…kulang (lack of documents), insa waay kami gin-inform nila,” Jay stressed.

“Kung sin-o man nagabaton sang amon DTR, tanan nga mga supporting documents namon, amon na nga ginasaligan, indi niyo man pagdula-a,” he added.

Cadornigara said the OCA allowance for May and June would be downloaded directly to the provincial government after DOH-6 and the Capitol enters into a memorandum of agreement (MOA).

Iloilo Provincial Health Office (PHO) head Dr. Maria Socorro Colmenares-Quiñon previously explained that funds are directly downloaded by the DOH central office to its regional office, which is responsible for releasing them to all eligible public and private workers in health facilities in the region.

Quiñon added that one way to hasten the release of OCA was to request the DOH central office to download the funds directly to the provincial government, instead of the DOH-6.

In a regular session last Jan 24, the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP) of Iloilo approved a resolution allowing Iloilo Governor Arthur Defensor Jr. to enter into a MOA with DOH-6.

But reports indicated that the DOH central office has yet to decide if it will allow the arrangement.

Despite the latest developments on the OCA, Jay said they are still dismayed by the uncertainty on when they can receive their allowances and which agency would be responsible for it.

“Ang nabaton namon January, February lang kag ang nabilin nga four months March, April, May, June nga dapat mabaton namon 2022 waay gid. Ang iban ya nakabaton na kag subong pagkabalo ko daw mahimo sila ata MOA nga si Capitol na lang ang mahatag sang amon May kag June (allowance), ti kalain lang kag kasakit batyagon nga ginapabungol-bungulan kami kag ginapasa-pasa ang amon benepisyo,” Jay stressed.

Recent data available indicated that DOH-6 posted a 69 percent obligation rate in the release of the OCA amounting to more than P766.2 million out of the P1.1 billion fund allocated for the region.

The allowance that eligible HCWs and non-HCWs could receive monthly depends on their COVID-19 Risk Exposure Classification (CREC) – P9,000 for high risk; P6,000 for moderate risk, and P3,000 for low risk.

OCA is a COVID-19 benefit for public and private HCWs and non-HCWs involved in the pandemic response in all health facilities, including military, hospitals, government-owned and controlled corporations, state university hospitals, and licensed private health facilities.