PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte has approved the release of P1.185 billion to cover the special risk allowance (SRA) of healthcare workers, his ally Senator Lawrence T. Go said on Wednesday.

The P1.185 billion was charged against the 2021 Contingent Fund and covers the SRAs of private healthcare workers and non-Department of Health plantilla personnel “who are directly catering to or in contact with COVID-19 patients,” Mr. Go said in a statement.

The Budget department recently released P8.189 billion to cover the SRAs of 497,043 health workers, Mr. Go said.

Health Assistant Secretary Maylene M. Beltran told a congressional inquiry on Tuesday that the government has released about P8 billion for the risk allowances of 496,314 medical frontliners for the period Dec. 20 to June 30.

“We have an additional request for SRA amounting to P3.3 billion and to cover the special risk allowance of around 185,000 HCWs,” she said.

Ms. Beltran, meanwhile, said at the same hearing that the government has released nearly P6.56 billion for the active hazard duty pay of health workers.

Health advocates have been urging the government to pay SRAs in light of the infections due to the highly infectious Omicron variant of the coronavirus. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza