Ahong says release of SRA backed by DBM orders

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Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Ahong Chan said the release of Covid-19 special risk allowances (SRA) to non-health workers in 2021 was authorized and was backed by Department of Budget and Management (DBM) orders.

Chan was responding to a news report that the city government had been questioned by the state auditors regarding the distribution of millions of pesos in Covid-19 SRA and active hazard duty pay to non-health workers, as well as the distribution without proof that the personnel had physically reported for work during the indicated period and the failure to include some employees’ designations in the payroll.

The news organization should have sought the statement of the city government prior to the publication of the story, according to the mayor. (

Chan claimed that the previous DBM AO 28 dated April 28, 2020 served as the foundation for the news report and that DBM AO 36, issued in November of the same year and authorizing the grant of Covid-19 SRAs of up to P5,000 per month to private and public health workers directly serving or in contact with Covid-19 patients from September 15 to December 2020, was not mentioned.

AO 36, he added, provides that public health workers are either civilian employees occupying regular, contractual, or casual positions, whether full-time or part-time; or workers engaged through the contract to service or job order, including duly accredited and registered barangay health workers (BHW) who are assigned to hospitals, laboratories or medical and quarantine facilities.

DBM AO 28 authorizes the grant of SRA to frontline public health workers (PHW) during the period of enhanced community quarantine relative to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Under AO 28, the Covid-19 SRA is equivalent to a maximum of 25 percent of the monthly basic salary or pay and should be given only to qualified public health workers assigned in hospitals and health care facilities, and who are directly catering to or are in contact with Covid-19 patients, patients under investigation or persons under monitoring.

The SRA grant shall be pro-rated based on the number of days the PHW physically reported for work during the ECQ.

The city government, however, followed AO 36 as amended by AO 42, in providing the maximum amount of P5,000 per public health worker subject to a given computation.

State auditors stated in its 2021 annual audit report that the city government provided on Sept. 30, 2021 Covid-19 SRA worth P9.5 million to workers, who included those not qualified as public health workers workers as defined in AO 28.

Lapu-Lapu City disbursed the SRA even though it failed to conform with provisions provided by AO 28 and DBM Circular 2020-2, which provides the guidelines on the grant of the Covid-19 SRA pursuant to AO 28, said COA.

It also questioned the city for the payment of active hazard duty pay (AHDP) from February to April 2021 to frontline Human Resources for Health (HRHs) and SRA to health workers totaling P7.9 million as this did not conform with DBM-DOH Joint Circulars 1 and 2, which set the guidelines for the payment of the AHDP and the SRA.