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Cebu City asked “why give special hazard allowance to non-sanitary workers?”

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CEBU CITY, Philippines – The Commission on Audit (COA) has ordered the Cebu City government to stop giving financial incentives to staff who do not directly care for COVID-19 patients.

State auditors found that the city spent about 10.9 million pesos on the COVID-19 Special Risk Allowance (SRA) in 2020, but nearly half of the amount was awarded to security officers. non-public health.

“The audit revealed that the city has granted SRAs totaling ₱5,137,726.07 to various staff who cannot be classified as PHW,” said parts of the annual audit report 2021 of the COA for the city of Cebu.

The COA emphasized that Local Government Units (LGUs) and National Government Agencies should adhere to Joint Circular No. 2 from the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and the Department of Health (DOH) when distribution of ARS during the pandemic.

In it, government officials are mandated to provide COVID-19 ARS to “medical, paramedical and other personnel who directly provide treatment and supportive care to COVID-19 patients.”

Each qualifying beneficiary can get up to P5,000 per month.

“We have recommended that management (Cebu City Government) discontinue the granting of SRAs to non-medical and non-allied employees and adhere to the guidelines set forth in Joint DBM-DOH Circular No. 2, Art. 2020,” the COA said.

Answer

City Hall leaders, in response to COA’s question, tried to justify that non-PHWs who received SRAs were constantly exposed to threats from the virus because of their postings.

“In his show cause letter to the City Accountant’s Office, the Acting Hospital Manager explained that the immediate environment where employee offices are located within the compound, whether near or adjacent to restricted areas (red zone), contain a high viral load.Each working day, employees would pass through these areas to and from work,” COA said, citing the city government.

Non-PHWs were assigned to Cebu City Medical Center, Guba Community Hospital, and Cebu City Quarantine Center, all of which served as isolation centers for confirmed COVID-19 patients with symptoms. mild symptoms at the height of the pandemic.

Joint circular

However, COA pointed out that the city’s justifications still ran counter to the provisions in the joint circular from DBM and DOH.

“The circular is not radical but precise on the conditions of granting because it did not simply declare that all the staff assigned to hospitals and health establishments are qualified for the granting of the SRA simply because of their duty station,” the COA said.

“Thus, contrary to the application by the City of the circular, all personnel assigned to hospitals and health establishments are not automatically entitled to COVID-19 SRA”, they added.

The state audit agency also reminded the city government to ensure that the distribution of public funds will be carried out by duly authorized employees as disbursement agents.

The ACO discovered that the SRAs had been disbursed through personnel not named or designated as the city’s collection or disbursement agent.

“Although each check disbursement was accompanied by a signed payroll record signifying receipt of payouts by recipients, the practice of issuing checks to employees who were not designated as disbursement agents exposed the funds to an absolute risk of loss in the event of staff infidelity in handling the funds which is the essence of why the law requires that every responsible officer be properly bonded,” they explained.

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