Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) on Thursday disputed claims made by an official of an organization representing medical workers that many health workers did not receive their COVID-19 benefits.
Duque furnished INQUIRER.net with a report showing that the RITM has so far released over P200M in COVID-19 allowances since 2020.
The report, provided by RITM Director Celia Carlos, indicated that the institute released P65.9 million for special risk allowance, P23 million for active hazard duty pay, and another P120 million for meals, accommodation, and transportation (MAT) allowance as of November 5, 2021.
Carlos’ report also indicated that permanent employees and contract of service (COS) workers also received their respective allowances.
“RITM did not distribute funds for meals, accommodations, and transportation (MAT) anymore since the Institute provided all of [the] aforementioned in kind for 2020,” according to Carlos’ report.
Of the P208.9 million, Carlos said the RITM spent P120,244,576 for MAT until December 2020.
Carlos further explained the breakdown of MAT allowance, saying that the RITM spent a total of P48,176,316 to provide daily meals to all employees, COS, and outsourced staff; P54,070,903 for accommodations in various hotels; and P 17,997,356 for transportation shuttle services.
Duque released the RITM report in response to the statement of Cristy Donguines, president of Jose Reyes Memorial Medical Center Employees Union-Alliance of Health Workers (AHW), who was quoted as saying that many workers in RITM did not receive their COVID-19 benefits.
The statement was made on Wednesday, shortly after several health workers who are AHW members staged a protest outside the main office of the Department of Health.
Donguines was also quoted as saying that “health workers in DOH-retained hospitals only got 30 percent of the funds from the DOH for our meal, accommodation and transportation benefit for the period of September to December 2020. The remaining 70 percent were withheld by the DOH.”
INQUIRER.net reached Assistant Health Secretary Maylene Beltran — who is in charge of MAT allowance — for comment, but she has yet to respond as of posting.