DOH chief admits “not enough budget” for regularization of all health workers

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III admitted that the agency doesn’t have enough budget to regularize all its field workers.

Speaking about the cut made to DOH’s 2019 budget, Secretary Duque said that the agency does not have enough budget to pay for the salaries and benefits of their health workers if they all be regularized. The health chief shared that although regularizing their workers is "very good," in reality, it entails added costs. He said, “The reality is there’s not enough resources to put everyone on a regular basis."

DOH chief admits “not enough budget” for regularization of all health workers
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III says they don’t have enough budget to regularize all their health workers | Screengrab: Facebook/ANC 24/7

As much as P8-billion was slashed from the budget of DOH’s human resource for health deployment program and Duque feared that more than 14,000 medical workers, consisting of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other medical personnel deployed in rural areas might lose their jobs.

Duque explained that the Department of Budget and Management’s P8-billion cut was not really a cut but a “transfer” of the budget allocation from agency's maintenance and other operating expenses to the miscellaneous personnel benefit fund to make way for the regularization.

Duque explained that he supports the regularization “100 percent” but the implication is they have to pay for added benefits such as social security benefits. He said, “It means babayaran mo na ang Pag-ibig, Philhealth, and GSIS.” Currently under the Job Order (JO) process, the government doesn’t pay for those.

The health secretary continued that DOH will soon be implementing the fourth tranche of the Salary Standardization Law and if they continue to “raise the rates” of their health workers without an increase in their budget, they might need to let go of some. He added, “Maganda nga yung gagawin mo, itataas mo, iko-contractualize mo sila and you have added social security benefits and the salary tranche 4 rates, pero kung hindi mo itataas yung rates mo, magkaka-cut ka."

Duque clarified that DBM’s plan to fund for regularization is simply not enough."Ang position ng DBM ganito: only 77.4 percent ang field plantilla positions and they were referring to personnel in the hospitals of the DOH...We’re talking of an entirely separate human resource program—manpower meant to be deployed to the local communities," he said.

Duque continued that he still needs to explain further to DBM their data.

DBM firm on DOH budget cut

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno stood by their decision to cut P36 billion in DOH 2019 budget.

DOH’s previous budget of P107 billion is down to P71 billion by 2019. The cut will affect the DOH’s field workers under the health human-resources deployment. Diokno alleviated fears of job losses by saying that such assumptions were “false.”

The budget secretary explained that a huge sum was placed in Miscellaneous Personnel Benefits Fund (MPBF) to regularize health workers. Diokno said, “We wish to give our health professionals job security and full benefits for their service by funding permanent and contractual positions, not just job order arrangements.”

“We are doing this to be able to deliver a higher standard of health service to the Filipino people,” Diokno added.

— Sally, The Summit Express

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